Generally, the government does not interfere in family matters. However, the law allows the state to step in to protect a child from harm within the family in a procedure known as a dependency action.
A dependency action is started by filing a petition (a written request) in Juvenile Court. The petition must allege that the child is "dependent." A "dependent child" is a child who:
- Has been abandoned by his or her parent, guardian, or other custodian;
- Has been abused or neglected by a person legally responsible for his or her care; or
- Has no parent, guardian, or custodian capable of providing adequate care.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 13.34 is the law that covers juvenile dependency actions.
How Can You Learn About the Juvenile Dependency Process?
Services Available Through the Dependency Process