granting custody to non parent

Can Non-Biological Parents Win Custody?

Goldberg Jones Child Custody, Paternity 8 Comments

Custody disputes often become heated, contentious affairs. But what if you’re a non-biological parent? Do you even have a chance to win custody?

What do you think of when you think of a family? Your mind probably conjures up images of a mother, a father, a couple of kids, and that sort of thing. But families come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. With a rising remarriage rate, new blended families rise from the ashes of the old.

Can You Win Custody Of A Child that isn’t technically yours?

Deep emotional connections are not exclusive to biologically linked households. All of this further complicates matters when it comes to child custody.

In most cases, a biological parent has a significant advantage when it comes to gaining custody.

There are, however, situations where the court has awarded a non-biological parent, like a stepparent, custody over a blood mother or father. These situations are few and far between, and usually represent extreme circumstances. But they do exist.

Related Reading: Right of First Refusal, Divorce, and Child Custody

When Can A Non-Biological Parent Be Granted Custody?

When it comes to custody, the best interest of the child take precedent over all other concerns. The health and well-being of any minors trumps pretty much any other factors.

Most of the time, the court views remaining with a biological parent as the idea situation. But not always.

If you vie for custody of a child that isn’t your blood relation, you have the opportunity to present your case.

If you can demonstrate that you are the optimal guardian, you may have a chance. You should also, however, prepare to face an uphill battle.

Perhaps the most common conditions that may lead to a non-biological parent being awarded child custody are cases of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. If you show that the minor remaining with their biological parents places them in harm’s way, you may have a chance.

Are the parents involved in dangerous activities or criminal enterprises that may negatively impact the child’s well-being? If so, the court will take that into consideration.

Similar to cases of abuse and neglect, a child may be removed from such situations if they are in jeopardy. When custodial parents wind up in jail or are otherwise absent, children may also be relocated.

While you may be able to gain custody by proving that the child’s biological parents are unfit, it is also possible for both sides to come to an agreement on their own outside of arbitration.

Perhaps the birth mother recognizes  she’s not the best option to care for her child right now. If she’s willing to hand over custody or grant parental rights, that may work. Regular or extended visitation is also an option worth exploring in some cases.

Related Reading: Can I Still Smoke Weed? Legal Marijuana and Child Custody

Best Interest Of The Child

The court considers a number of factors before ultimately making a decision on child custody.

  • The age of the child or children in question figures into the final ruling.
  • The older the child, the more meaningful a bond he or she may have formed with a non-biological parent, and they often account for this.
  • If a child is old enough, he or she may be able to voice an opinion on the matter. This, however, usually only happens with older children.

Though the court can take a child’s preferences into account, a judge ultimately acts in the child’s best interest. Even if that runs counter to the expressed wishes or parental convenience.

Along these lines, the court may consider the relationship between a non-biological parent and child.

  • If the bond is deep, meaningful, and beneficial, that may factor into the decision.
  • If you have acted like a parent, that goes a long way to strengthening your case.
  • Raising a child from a very young age, paying child support, and generally look after their health and well-being.

Keep in mind that the child’s best interests are paramount. Long, drawn-out court battles may not be ideal. Hopefully, you and the other parties involved will be able to come to a peaceable accord.

Related Reading: What Does a Parenting Plan Include?

Comments 8

  1. My son and daughter in law are in a custody dispute with the wife of my daughter in law brother he passed away 2 weeks ago. They were not divorced but separated for 3 1/2 years and the mother had never had anything to do with the kids until he passed away . There is money involved social security and life insurance left to the grandma as beneficiary. The mother has been said to have been involved in drugs i am just saying what I heard. When my son and wife showed up at court the mother did not have to show up because she had made a court date on the same date and time as the other one don’t know how that works. I know where the boys belong and where they want to be but seems like an uphill battle against the judicial system and a lawyer that didn’t do a very good job and no arguing whatsoever on my son and his wife’s account. I’m just wanting to know what can they do to have a chance of getting these kids back where they can be in a stable home what is your advise.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Leslie,
      Thanks for reaching out. That’s a tough, complicated situation. I passed your contact information along to Ken Alan, our managing attorney. He will reach out soon and give you a clearer idea of your options.

  2. I have 2 cars both gifted to me during our marriage and I have 2 kids who think he is their daddy they don’t know anyone else. Can you give me a little bit of advice of what will happen. I live in indiana.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Tiffanie, thanks for reaching out. That’s a tricky situation. I passed your contact information on to Ken Alan, our managing attorney. He will reach out to you soon and hopefully give you a better idea of your options.

    1. Post
      Author

      That’s a tough situation, Jami. Thanks for reaching out. I passed your contact information along to our managing attorney, Ken Alan. He will get in touch soon with a better answer than we can get into here.

  3. Hello! My husband is about to join the military and obviously we would be moving around a bit, however wed have to take my daughters biological father to court for full custody. How high are the chances of us getting full custody? I’m a stay at home mom and my husband has been there for my daughter since day one. She and he have formed this amazing bond and she has no idea who her biological father is. She thinks my husband is her one and only daddy. Please let me know if my chances are good or not.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Caitlyn, thanks for reaching out. Custody cases depend on a lot of factors and can get complicated in a hurry. I passed your contact information on to our managing attorney. He will be in touch soon and hopefully be able to give you an idea of your options and chances!

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