In Re Guardianship of K.B.F.: Details the legal requirements for a juvenile court to convert a dependency into a guardianship.
By Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski, family lawyers
In 2010, the Legislature enacted RCW 13.36.040, which allows the juvenile court to convert a dependency into a guardianship. The guardianship is presented as an alternative to termination of the parent-child relationship and as an alternative to continued efforts to return custody of the child to a parent.
K.B.F. was removed from her parents’ home and placed with her maternal grandparents in 2009. A dependency petition was filed and the petition was granted. In March of 2012, the maternal grandparents filed a guardianship petition, seeking designation as K. B. F.’s guardian. At that point, K.B.F. had been out of her parents’ care for over two years. The parents contested the guardianship petition.
In Re Guardianship of K.B.F.: The Requirements for Establishment of a Guardianship
The statute, RCW 13.36.040(2)(a), sets forth the requirements for establishment of a guardianship, including that the child has been found to be dependent, a dispositional order has been entered, the child has been out of the parent’s home for six months, the services ordered have been offered or provided and all reasonable services have been offered or provided, there is little likelihood that conditions will be remedied so that the child can be returned to the parent, and the proposed guardian has accepted the responsibility to provide care for the child until the child reaches 18 years of age.
While the first two requirements were met, the record on appeal did not show which services the juvenile court had ordered for K.B.F.’s parents. As a result, the juvenile court lacked the authority to convert the dependency into a guardianship.
Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski practice family law in Olympia, Washington with the law firm of Connolly Tacon & Meserve.
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