This Comment proposes three amendments to the Washington Visitation Statute that would ensure juvenile courts properly focus on the long-term best interests of children and reduce children's exposure to abuse in the visitation setting. To analyze the existing tension between the rights of parents and the rights of children, Part II of this Comment traces the development of family rights and state intervention under Roman, constitutional, and Washington law. In particular, this Part focuses on the origins of parental rights, the parens patriae right of states, and the rights of children. Part III addresses the dependency process in Washington by describing the typical experiences of children and parents after the initial pick-up order placing the child in state custody. Part IV presents the typical benefits and common problems associated with dependency visitation. Part V introduces the former Visitation Statute and the development of the current version, and then proceeds to examine the juvenile court's application of the Statute. Part V also analyzes three visitation cases from the Washington State Court of Appeals. Finally, Part VI recommends three statutory amendments to help courts render visitation decisions that better serve the best interest of the child and minimize the potential for emotional and physical abuse.
Jennifer K. Smith, Putting Children Last: How Washington Has Failed to Protect the Dependent Child's Best Interest in Visitation, 32 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 769 (2009).