The court may appoint the Juvenile Department
as Family Court Investigator (FCI), or in some cases guardian ad litem
(GAL), to investigate and make recommendations to the court as to
visitation and/or temporary or permanent living arrangements for children
involved in these proceedings. Typically, appointments are made when there
are allegations of abuse or neglect, drug/alcohol use, mental health
issues or other safety concerns.
The Juvenile Department may be appointed as
GAL for any parent or alleged father under the age of 18, as well as for
the child adoptee or an incompetent party. When appointed for a minor
parent, the GAL shall determine what is in the best interest of the parent
as well as determining whether any written consent to adoption or
relinquishment signed was done so voluntarily and with an understanding of
the consequences of the action, and report such to the court. When
appointed for the child adoptee, the GAL’s limited purpose is to
investigate and report to the court as to the child’s best interest, and
not for the purpose of conducting pre-placement or post-placement reports.
Any minor who is 16 years of age or older and who is a resident of the State of Washington may petition the court for a declaration of emancipation.
The court shall grant the petition for emancipation if the petitioner proves the following facts by clear and convincing evidence: that the petitioner is 16 or older, is a resident of the state, has the ability to manage his or her financial affairs, and has the ability to manage his or her personal, social, educational, and non-financial affairs.
The court may appoint the Juvenile Department as GAL for the petitioning juvenile in these cases. As such, the GAL will investigate the matter and provide the court with information addressing the following:
The GAL will provide a recommendation whether or not the petition for emancipation should be granted. The emancipation process begins with the Clerk's Office.