Washington Law Review


Sandra R. Blair


This Note contends that, based on the custody statute and relevant case law, the court of appeals should have answered these questions differently. The Note first proposes that, in a dissolution action, the trial court should have automatic jurisdiction only over the children born of that marriage. The court should have jurisdiction over other children only if they are not in the custody of either of their parents or if neither parent is a suitable custodian. Second, it proposes that a stepparent should not automatically have standing to seek custody of a child based on an in loco parentis relationship. A stepparent should have to separately petition the court for custody, alleging that the child is not in the custody of either parent, or that neither parent is a suitable custodian. Finally, it proposes that the "best interests of the child" standard should apply to all custody determinations, including those between a parent and a nonparent. This Note concludes that, under Allen, the custody of all stepchildren will be an issue in a dissolution action involving one of their parents. This holding may well increase the number of contested dissolutions and render uncertain the custody of increasing numbers of children.

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