Helping Families for 25+ Years

When Can a Third-Party Obtain Child Custody?

Third-party or non-parent custody is when an adult who is not a child’s parent is granted custody. While third-party custody rights are not typically granted to other parties since the courts believe that it is in a child’s best interests to remain with their biological or adopted parents, it can happen under certain circumstances.

A person who gains this type of custody will become legally responsible for making decisions regarding the child’s education, living arrangement, medical care, religion, and their overall safety and wellbeing. Today, we go over when a third-party could secure child custody.

Non-Parent Custody Rights Are Awarded in Extreme Situations

Non-parent custody can be awarded in extreme situations including but not limited to the following:

  • Extreme neglect
  • Abuse
  • Incarceration
  • Addiction
  • Incapacitation
  • One or both parents died
  • Any other reason that deems the child’s parents to be unfit

The third-party individual will need to prove that either one or both parents are unfit to raise the child. They must also show how it would be in the best interest of the child to be in their custody.

Process of Requesting Custody as a Third Party

To be able to file a request for third-party custody, a non-parent must show he/she has a legal standing, or ability to show the court a connection to or interest in the child. An example of this would be a grandparent that has acted as the child’s primary custodian for over a year.

It is important to note that the same factors that apply to a typical custody case when determining custody will also apply in this situation. The child’s best interest is the most important factor, which means their biological parents can still lose custody if the court finds that the parents cannot adhere to this standard.

The court will base its final decision on which party is best suited to care for the child and can provide for his/her specific needs. Therefore, when it comes time to figure out how to request third-party custody rights, a non-parent should discuss their situation with an experienced attorney. If they believe that they can provide a better, more stable living environment for the child than their biological or adoptive parents can, they should file a petition for third-party child custody rights.

Common third-party individuals who typically request custody include the following:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Stepparents
  • Partners of the deceased parents

If you are considering third-party custody, contact our office online to secure a consultation to discuss your options.