Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 1140: Relating to sibling visitation after a dependency has been dismissed or concluded

Sponsored by Representative Roberts, the bill allows the sibling of a minor child to petition the court for sibling visitation. The bill applies only in situations in which either sibling was a dependent child and the dependency has been dismissed or concluded and the existing permanent placement does not provide for visitation. It also requires that the sibling have a “significant sibling relationship,” which is defined as a beneficial relationship with substantial continuity while residing in the same household together for a substantial period of time before being separated. It includes full and half siblings by blood or adoption, as well as current and former step siblings under the definition of “sibling”. The petitioning sibling must demonstrate that a lack of visitation would harm the sibling relationship and that visitation is in the minor child’s best interest.

Substitute bill:  SSB 1140 does the following:  adds intent language recognizing that fit parents are presumed to act in their child’s best interests; clarifies that dependency proceedings initiated for either sibling must have been dismissed; requires the petition for sibling visitation to be filed in the county where the minor child primarily resides; adds that the petitioning sibling must show that the person with whom the minor child resides has prevented visitation and there is no other avenue to seek visitation; and removes the provision that requires the court to order a petitioning sibling over age 18 to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to the prevailing party if the petition is dismissed or visitation is denied.