Color illustration of a young person staring out beyond a picture of some trees at a park. There are 2 adults in the picture as well. From Clallam County Bar.

Positive Change in Minor Guardianship

The Uniform Guardianship Act passed in 2019. It addresses many supports for people who need guardians, including children. The new section that addressed the needs of children went into effect on January 1, 2021.

For TeamChild attorneys, this new law has a positive impact on the options we can provide to clients when they seek legal assistance to stabilize their living situation. The major change is that young people, under the age of 18, can petition the court to seek a new guardian when they do not have a parent or guardian who is caring for them or keeping them safe. They had never been given the agency to do this on their own before. Under the old laws, they had to wait for some other adult to petition the court on their behalf. In it’s first year, we have seen how vital this new law is for young people without safe living situations.

TeamChild attorneys represented about a dozen youth in the first year who had no safe adult to take care of them. We navigated the new law along with judges, court clerks, opposing counsel, and others who were learning how the new law works in its first year. We identified a few places where the new law needed improvement, and collaborated with kinship caregiver advocates, parents’ attorneys, and the judges to propose some edits to the new law, which are captured in Senate Bill 5788 and sponsored by Senator Pedersen. This bill is successfully working its way through the current legislative session. Watch this space for updates.

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