Family Law

WA Teens Sue for Custody of Parents

In what may be the first case brought under a new Washington state law that gives children a legal pathway to seek a restoration of parental rights, two twin brothers are petitioning to be put back in the custody of their parents.

Timothy Wolcott was removed from the family home in 2001 because of alleged parental neglect and put in foster care. He says he wants to go home again—albeit to a different home situation than the one in which he lived then. Although they subsequently lost their parental rights over him, his twin brother and a younger sister in 2003, his parents, who divorced in 2001, have changed for the better, he tells the Seattle Times. Despite the problems the family faced, the two teens and their parents also maintain that they should never have been split up by the state in the first place.

While Timothy Wolcott’s sister, 11, has been adopted in the meantime, he and his brother have struggled in foster care. Both have been involved in juvenile court cases, according to the Times, and both have repeatedly run away from foster homes, seeking to return to one or the other of their parents. Now, under a new Washington law modeled on a California statute, they may be able to move home legally.

The two teens are believed to be the first to attempt to petition for a restoration of parental rights under the law—which their mother, Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt, lobbied state legislators to enact. It was signed by the governor in May and took effect in July.

A hearing in their case is set for Sept. 17. The state reportedly doesn’t intend to oppose the petition.

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