Title 3 - Dependency Proceedings


Juvenile court jurisdiction is invoked over dependency proceedings by filing a petition.


(a) Who May File.

Any person may file a petition alleging dependency.

(b) Venue.

The petition shall be filed in the county where the juvenile is located or where the juvenile resides.


A dependency petition shall contain:

(a) Identification of the Juvenile. The name, age, sex, and residence of the juvenile so far as known to the petitioner.

(b) Identification of Parent, Guardian, or Custodian. The name, marital status, and residence of the parent, guardian, or custodian, or person with whom the juvenile is residing, so far as known to the petitioner. If not known, the petition shall so state.

(c) Indian Children. If the petitioner knows or has reason to know that the juvenile is an Indian child as defined by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, the petition shall so state and shall name the tribe, if known, to which the juvenile belongs.

(d) Jurisdictional Statement. A statement of the statutory provisions which give the court jurisdiction over the proceeding.

(e) Statement of Facts. A statement of the facts which give the court jurisdiction over the juvenile and over the subject matter of the proceedings, stated in plain language and with reasonable definiteness and particularity.

(f) Request for Inquiry. A request that the court inquire into the matter and enter an order that the court shall find to be in the best interests of the juvenile and justice.

(g) Other. Any other information required by court rule or statute.


(a) Notice and Summons.

After the petition has been filed, notice and summons shall be issued and served pursuant to RCW 13.34.070 or published pursuant to RCW 13.34.080. The notice shall state that the petition begins a process which, if the juvenile is found dependent, may result in permanent termination of the parent-child relationship.

(b) Advice To Be Contained in Notice.

A notice directed to the juvenile or the juvenile's parent, custodian, or guardian shall contain the following advisement: Right to Lawyer (1) You have the right to talk to a lawyer if you desire and, if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. (2) A lawyer can look at the social and legal files in your case, talk to the caseworker, tell you about the law, help you understand your rights, and help you at trial.

(c) Scheduling Factfinding Hearing.

The court shall schedule a factfinding hearing to be held within 75 days of the filing of the petition alleging dependency, giving preference to those cases where the juvenile is held in shelter care. The court may, for good cause shown, continue the hearing to a later time at the request of a party.

(d) Indian Children.

If the petitioner knows or has reason to know that the juvenile is an Indian child as defined by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, the petitioner shall notify the child's tribe in the manner required by RCW 13.34.070(10) and 25 U.S.C. 1912.


A petition may be amended at any time. The court shall grant additional time if necessary to insure a full and fair hearing on any new allegations in an amended petition.


Any party may file a written answer to a petition. An answer is not required unless ordered by the court or required by local rule.


(a) Procedure at Hearing.

The court shall hold a factfinding hearing on the petition in accordance with RCW 13.34.110.

(b) Evidence.

The Rules of Evidence shall apply to the hearing.

(c) Burden of Proof.

In a factfinding hearing on a petition alleging dependency pursuant to RCW 13.34.030(4), the facts alleged in the petition must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

(d) Findings of Fact.

In any dependency action in which the court makes specific findings of physical or sexual abuse or exploitation of a child the court shall direct the court clerk to notify the state patrol of the findings pursuant to RCW 43.43.840.


(a) Time.

If a juvenile has been found to be dependent, the court shall hold a disposition hearing. If the disposition hearing does not immediately follow the factfinding hearing, notice of the continued hearing shall be given to all parties in accordance with RCW 13.34.110.

(b) Informing Parties of Purpose of Hearing.

The court shall inform the parties of the purpose of the hearing. The court shall inform the parties of the new status of the juvenile as a result of the finding of dependency.

(c) Evidence.

The court shall consider the social file, social study, and other appropriate predisposition studies, in addition to information produced at the factfinding and disposition hearings. Any party shall have the right to be heard at the disposition hearing. Any social file, social study, or predisposition study shall be made available for inspection by a party or his or her lawyer for a reasonable time prior to the disposition hearing.

(d) Submission of Agency Plan.

If the agency plan referred to in RCW 13.34.130(3) is not submitted to the court at the time of the disposition hearing, it shall be filed with the court and distributed to all parties within 30 days after the disposition hearing.

(e) Transferring Legal Custody.

A disposition which orders removal of the juvenile from his or her home shall have the effect of transferring legal custody to the agency or custodian charged with the juvenile's care. The transfer of legal custody shall give the legal custodian the following rights and duties:

(1) To maintain the physical custody of the juvenile;

(2) To protect, train, and discipline the juvenile;

(3) To provide food, clothing, shelter, education as required by law, and routine medical care for a juvenile; and

(4) To consent to emergency medical and surgical care and to sign a release of medical information to appropriate authorities, pursuant to law. The court may, in its disposition order, modify the rights and duties granted to the legal custodian as a result of the transfer of legal custody.


The status of all juveniles found to be dependent shall be reviewed by the court at least every 6 months, in accordance with RCW 13.34.130, except when a guardianship has been established under RCW 13.34.231 and 13.34.232. The parties shall be given notice of the review hearing in accordance with rule 11.2. All parties shall have the right to be present at the review hearing and to be heard. Notice of a review hearing concerning a juvenile who has been found dependent under RCW 13.34.030(4) and who has been removed from the parental home shall include an advisement that a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship may be filed.


Any party may move to change, modify, or set aside an order pursuant to RCW 13.34.150. The motion shall be in writing and must state the basis for the motion and the relief requested. No order shall be changed, modified, or set aside except after notice to all parties and a hearing, unless the court waives the hearing on its own motion or upon motion of one of the parties, for good cause shown.


(a) Petition for Guardianship for Dependent Child.

Any party to a dependency proceeding, including the supervising agency, may file a petition requesting that a guardianship be created for a dependent child. The court may, on its own motion, order the supervising agency to file such a petition.

(b) Scheduling and Notice.

A guardianship hearing may be held in connection with a review hearing under rule 3.9, or it may be otherwise regularly scheduled. Notice of the time and place of the guardianship hearing may be given in open court. If notice is not given to a party in open court, the party shall be given notice in accordance with rule 11.2. Notice must be given to the Department of Social and Health Services, and the Department may intervene in the proceedings.

(c) Procedure; Evidence; Burden of Proof.

The court shall hold a hearing on the petition in accordance with RCW 13.34.231. The Rules of Evidence apply, and the burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence.