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Can a non-parent guardian secure custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Child Custody |

In custody battles, the court aims to strike a balance between the child’s well-being and the parents’ right to raise their children. However, situations sometimes arise when the court must consider non-parents, such as grandparents, other relatives and close family friends for custody rights.    

Non-parent custody cases are a particularly sensitive subject surrounded by complexities that require a deep understanding of legal grounds and the child’s welfare. What are some potential grounds for this type of child custody?  

Unfit biological parents   

Proving that the child’s biological parents are unfit is one of the most compelling grounds for non-parent custody. Such cases include a wide range of issues, such as substance or domestic abuse, neglect, incapacity to provide care or abandonment.   

For a parent to be deemed unfit for childcare, the court requires substantial evidence like documentation, witness statements and professional evaluations.    

Extraordinary circumstances  

Non-parent custody may enter the picture when extraordinary circumstances come into play. These are situations where the biological parents are unable to provide care, including incarceration, deportation, severe illness or death.   

Existing emotional bonds  

Stability and continuity are two significant factors required in raising a child. Suppose a non-parent has served as a primary caregiver or has established a longstanding and nurturing relationship with the child. In that case, the court may deem it essential to continue these existing circumstances for the child’s emotional health and development.   

Courts in all jurisdictions place the child’s best interests at the heart of every custodial decision. This means that non-parent custody seekers must prove that granting them custody aligns with fostering the child’s well-being and happiness more so than remaining under the care of the biological parents.  

Whether motivated by concern for the child’s safety or strong emotional bonds, securing legal representation can help non-parents navigate this challenging path toward obtaining custody, allowing them to provide a stable and nurturing environment.