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1/14/2010 10:13:08 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Washington: Bill Allows any Person to Petition for Visitation--Calls Needed

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 14, 2010

Washington: Bill Allows any Person to
Petition for Visitation Rights--Calls Needed

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

The Washington legislature is at it again. This year another third
party visitation bill has been introduced that will threaten parental
rights. House Bill 2421 would allow any person who can show he had a
substantial relationship with a child to petition the court for
visitation rights. While the bill would presume that the decisions a
fit parent makes is in the best interest of his or her children, a
court could overrule the parent's decision to limit contact with the
petitioner after a hearing.

Under House Bill 2421 any single parent or married couple who are
temporarily living apart (for instance, due to a job or financial
reasons) could face the threat of a petition for third party
visitation. There is no requirement under the bill that the petitioner
be related in any way to the child in order to request visitation
rights.

House Bill 2421 should be strongly opposed as an attack on parental
rights. Some of you may remember that similar bills have been
introduced in the past few years, but with your calls they were
defeated. We need your calls once again. Please immediately contact
the legislators listed below and urge them to defeat this bill. There
will be a work session on the bill in the Judiciary Committee today.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call and email the House Judiciary Committee members listed
below and give them this message in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 2421. This bill interferes with a parent's
fundamental right to direct the care, custody, and control of his or
her children. No person, especially someone who is not related to the
child, should be able to petition for visitation rights against the
will of a fit parent.

This bill should also be opposed because it will allow courts to
determine visitation in situations where the family is still intact,
jeopardizing family integrity. Please ensure that House Bill 2421 is
defeated."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer.

House Judiciary Committee Members

Rep. Jamie Pedersen- Chair (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7826
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7492

Rep. Roger Goodman - Vice Chair (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7878
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7493

Rep. Jay Rodne (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7852
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7494

Rep. Matt Shea (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7984
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7495

Rep. Dennis Flannigan (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7930
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7496

Rep. Troy Kelley (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7890
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7497

Rep. Steve Kirby (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7996
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7498

Rep. Charles Ross (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7856
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7499

Rep. Judy Warnick (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7932
Email: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7500

2) Please call and email your state senator and give them this message
in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 2421. This bill interferes with a parent's
fundamental right to direct the care, custody, and control of his
children. No person, especially someone who is not related to the
child, should be able to petition for visitation rights against the
will of a fit parent.

This bill should also be opposed because it will allow courts to
determine visitation in situations where the family is still intact,
jeopardizing family integrity. Please ensure that House Bill 2421 is
defeated."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer.

To find contact information for your state senator please go to
HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox and enter
your ZIP code.

BACKGROUND:

Over the years, HSLDA has represented hundreds of member families in
conflict with grandparents and other relatives who did not like
homeschooling. These relatives would occasionally try to stop the
homeschooling through various means, including turning the family over
to child welfare services. Thankfully, most grandparents we come in
contact with at HSLDA support homeschooling and in some situations
even participate in the teaching.

House Bill 2421 allows any third party to sue the parent for
visitation. If this bill becomes law, a person could petition the
court for visitation rights even when both parents are together. The
bill does not limit visitation to situations when there is a pending
dissolution, legal separation, or modification of a parenting plan
proceeding as many other states do.

On the surface this bill appears to protect parents' rights by
acknowledging that the decision of a fit parent is presumed to be in
the child's best interest. However, the petitioner is only required to
demonstrate that he or she had a "significant relationship" with the
child and that the child would likely suffer harm or substantial risk
of harm if visitation with the third party is not awarded. Once this
is demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence, the court can
override the fit parent's decision to limit contact with that person.

Additionally, House Bill 2421 allows "any person" to file a petition
for visitation rights. Only half of the states allow "any person" to
attempt to petition a court for visitation rights. Of these, four
states, including Washington, have had state courts declare their
statute unconstitutional either on its face or as applied.

HLSDA is opposed to House Bill 2421 as it is an attack on the
fundamental right of parents to direct the care, custody, and control
of their child. Please call now and urge both the Judiciary Committee
members and your state senator to oppose House Bill 2421.

If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like to help us fight
for greater homeschool freedom in Washington please visit
http://www.hslda.org/join/apply.asp .

If you would like to be put on our free email list to receive vital
e-lerts you may sign up at
https://secure.hslda.org/hslda/elert/account.asp?Process=Subscribe .

Thank you for your part in fighting for parental freedom in
Washington.


Sincerely,

Thomas Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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