Having a child live with her or his biological parent is not always the best option. In fact, sometimes it is necessary that another person or party receive custody so that the child can benefit from a safe and stable home. It is not uncommon for step-parents or grandparents to seek custody for these reasons, but there are a few things that every person should know when it comes to third-party custody.
According to the American Bar Association, proof that a parent is unfit is often a prerequisite of third-party custody. There are many other circumstances, however, which might make this custody arrangement both ideal and attainable. Consider the following if it is an option you want to pursue.
De facto custodians may be eligible
Third-party custody, of course, refers to guardianship maintained by a person who is not the biological parent of a child. Sometimes a child is raised by such a person while the parent remains uninvolved in the child’s life. If no official custody order exists, this is referred to as a de facto custodianship. In such cases, the custodian can apply for third-party status to make the arrangement sanctioned.
Many courts consider factors in the decision
The court that reviews a request for third-party custody will take many factors into consideration. It will consider the reasons a child should not live with her or his own parent as well as what the child wants, what the relationship to the potential guardian is and how well the child might adjust.
Third-party custody must be in the child’s best interest
It should go without saying, but in order for a third-party custodianship to be granted, it must be clearly in the best interest of the child. Criteria for approval are high because it is typically best for children to live with their own parents. This means that the arrangement must be necessary to spare the child harm or to provide a more stable environment.