Grandparents Visitation Rights Initiative Gathering Signatures

Portrait of grandparents and grandchildren

Among the proposed ballot initiatives for Washington voters is I-1431, which aims to guarantee grandparents can spend time with their grandchildren.

The measure allows for a non-parent relative to petition a court for child visitation rights under certain circumstances.

Bob Rudolph with Grandparents’ Rights of Washington State claims the initiative’s fair to all parties.

“It does not give us carte blanche.  All it does is give us standing in court.  And we have to plead our case, and show that the grandchildren don’t get to visit us, (or that) there’s some potential harm, (that it’s in the) best interest of the child.”

Rudolph notes Washington is the only state without a grandparents’ visitation law.  He says “We have members in 24 other states because the adult parents have moved to Washington state to get away from their (states) grandparents’ visitation laws.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a Washington grandparents’ visitation law illegal 16 years ago as being too vague.

Backers of I-1431 must gather almost 250,000 signatures by July 2nd to ensure the initiative goes to voters in November.

Opponents of the current initiative say it unfairly restricts parents’ rights.   A call to the Christian Homeschool Network of Washington, a group opposed to the initiative, was not returned.

A bill with almost identical language to I-1431 will be submitted to the state legislature in the next session if the initiative fails to go before voters.  Its chief proponent is Democratic State Senator Janie Pederson of Seattle.

Washington Republican lawmakers have largely opposed grandparents’ visitation rights legislation.  Several bills dealing with the issue have failed to advance in Olympia.

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