House Bill 2193: Allows Third-Party Visitation Petitions

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Last Updated: April 11, 2012
House Bill 2193: Allows Third-Party Visitation Petitions
Sponsors:
Representatives Pedersen, Nealey, Kagi, Rivers, Orwall, Walsh, Eddy, Goodman, Roberts, and Fagan
Summary:

House Bill 2193 is a “third party visitation bill” that would allow any person who “has established an ongoing and substantial relationship with the child” to petition the court to allow them to have visitation rights with that child—even if the parent objects. While the bill would supposedly prohibit petitions being filed against two parents living together with the child, any single parent or married couple who is temporarily living apart (for instance, due to a job in another state or for financial reasons) could face the threat of a petition for third-party visitation.

Under House Bill 2193 anyone who can show he or she had a relationship with the child for at least one year through interaction, companionship, and mutuality could petition the court for visitation rights. There would be no requirement that the person be related to the child.

HSLDA's Position:

Oppose- We believe House Bill 2193 should be strongly opposed as a threat to parental rights.

Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:

12/15/2011     (House)     Prefiled for introduction.
01/11/2012     (House)     Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary at 8:00 a.m. in anticipation of other legislative action.
01/12/2012     (House)     Originally scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Judiciary in anticipation of other legislative action. Bill has been pulled off the agenda.
01/19/2012     (House)     Executive action taken by committee.
01/24/2012     (House)     Referred to Rules 2 for review.
04/11/2012      (House) Bill died in Committee

Background:

Over the years, HSLDA has represented 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 encounter at HSLDA support homeschooling and in some situations even participate in the teaching.

However, House Bill 2193 would allow any third party to sue the parent for visitation rights. If this bill becomes law, a person could petition the court for visitation rights when both parents are together and not only when there is a pending dissolution, legal separation, or modification of a parenting plan proceeding.

On the surface these bills appear 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. This places the court in the position of deciding whether the parent was justified in limiting contact with the third party.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History