Can Non-Biological Parents or Other Family Members be Awarded Custody?

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During familial hardships such as a divorce, a non-biological parent or family member may be awarded custody. If the biological family is determined to be unfit, then the non-biological parent could gain custody of the child if it is in the child’s best interest.

If a biological and non-biological parent are separating, this begs the question: who has legal guardianship rights over the child? The court typically favors the biological parent over the non-biological parent. However, the non-biological parent may be able to hire an attorney to aid in receiving joint or full custody depending on the circumstances.

Under What Circumstances Would This Occur?

If a biological parent marries someone who is not related to the child, this new parent becomes the stepparent. Should anything happen to the biological parent, custody would initially favor or be awarded to the other biological parent. For instance, say the father has custody but deserts the child, is imprisoned, or has died. The custody would be turned over to the mother. However, if the mother was deemed unfit, the stepmother would be able to seek custody.

Other family members may be awarded custody of a child if the biological parents’ pass away, are imprisoned, or are found unfit after a psychiatric evaluation. A knowledgeable attorney could offer further advice in these circumstances.

Process for a Non-Biological Parent to Receive Custody

The process for a non-biological parent to receive custody is essentially the same as in a traditional custody case, with the only difference being that the non-biological parent should adopt the child. The adoption gives full legal and physical custody of a child. The non-biological parent could also receive custody if they signed the child’s birth certificate or assumed responsibility and developed a strong bond with the child since birth.

The non-biological parent may be entitled to custody under the above circumstances. However, the judge will also need to determine if the non-biological parent is fit for parenting the child. This process may be similar to a psychiatric evaluation during a divorce case to determine if a parent is mentally stable to raise a child.

Learn More about Custody for Non-Biological Parents

Our legal team may be able to advise you on gaining custody of a child and advocate for you in your case. A skilled lawyer could present evidence on your behalf and help you protect the best interests of the child. Speak with a trusted family law attorney today to learn more about custody cases involving non-biological parents.

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