Seeking non-parent custody is not always related to the parents’ bad behavior. Third-party custody is sometimes best for the child. But since the parents are perceived to be best placed to care for a child, non-parents have to convince the court to give them custody.
The process of petitioning for child custody for non-parents is similar to how biological parents do it. It can be technical since the courts must do due diligence to ensure that minors are in the safest hands. Non-biological caregivers can seek legal help on family law matters from a Fresno family law lawyer.
Are There Limitations on Who Can File for Non-Parent Custody in California ?
California doesn’t limit non-parent custody applications. Anyone can apply for the custody of a minor – extended family, immediate family, or friends. As long as you can raise the child, you can get probate guardianship.
Situations can create the need for you to become a legal guardian. For instance, a nephew, niece, or a friend’s child might have been kicked out of their home, or the parents are simply unfit to raise them. Such minors often need someone to take responsibility for them, and anyone can file.
What Would it Mean for a Non-Parent to Gain Custody in Fresno?
An appointment as a child’s guardian comes with a new set of responsibilities. You might have to take care of the minor just like their parent would. The petitioner will:
- Have custody of the minor
- Manage the child’s estate
- Apply for health insurance for the child
- Take them to the doctor
- Make other important decisions for the child
However, note that:
- You might be subject to the court’s supervision
- If the parents become fit to care for their child, the court can terminate your guardianship
- The parents retain their rights and can request reasonable visitation
Fresno child custody attorneys can further explain what custody means for a non-parent. And if it sounds like what you desire, they will guide you on how to file the petition in California.
What is the Procedure for Gaining Custody as a Non-Parent?
It is essential to have legal standing before filing a request for custody as a non-parent. This means that you should have some form of connection with the minor. In case of disagreements with the biological parents, a mediator from the Family Court Services might help them reach a consensus regarding the child’s situation.
If no agreement is reached, the judge usually decides what would be best for the child. The court might use the services of a custody evaluator to gather detailed information. A Fresno child custody lawyer can help you file the proper documents and represent you throughout the process.
What Conditions Make it Easier for Non-Parents to Get Custody?
Child custody for non-parents might be a less uphill battle in the following conditions:
- The child has resided in your home for a year or more
- The child’s parents have consented to the custody
- The biological parents have been deemed unfit to continue having custody
- The child’s parents are deceased
Apart from the above factors, the court might also examine your fitness in having the child’s custody. The judge could consider:
- Your financial ability to support the child
- Your health
- Your age
- The child’s relationship with other blood relatives
- How much contact you had with the child before filing the petition
Fresno child custody attorneys can evaluate your situation and identify strong points to use to your advantage. They can emphasize all the reasons why a custody decision in your favor would be best for the minor.
What Makes Child Custody Battles for Non-Parents Difficult?
If a child’s parents are not deceased and do not consent to you having custody of the minor, the court battle might be tougher. You might have to show that the parents are unfit to have custody on grounds such as:
- Mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Child abuse
But even if the parents are not fit to have custody, you might encounter several other legal hurdles. Multiple family members could also attempt to get custody of the same child. The competing claims are usually resolved based on what would be best for the minor.
Who Gets Custody if One Parent is Deceased?
When a child loses a parent, the courts often consider the other parent best to have custody of the minor. But if it is not in the best interest of the minor, close family members, including grandparents, might be allowed custody of the little one.
If the deceased custodial parent lived with a particular relative, they might have an advantage in their custody petition. Family court judges prefer the stability of minors and would prefer the child staying in the same home. It would be even better if the custodial parent named you as the legal guardian in their will, and if the child wants to live with you.
Can Step-Parents Get Custody After Divorce?
Depending on the situation, step-parents can get custody of a non-biological child post-divorce. If the biological parent disappears or is incarcerated, the child might live in the step-parent’s home.
The arrangement must be favorable for the minor, and the step-parent should be available to care for the child. Step-parents who want to take over a child’s upbringing after divorce shouldn’t hesitate. A consultation with a Fresno attorney can give clarity on the possibilities.
A Law Firm Offering Skilled Legal Services for Families
Non-parents attempting to get custody have a lot of convincing to do. It’s twice harder to win the case. It is easy to give up the case due to frustrations, despite having the purest of intentions. Legal help from experienced attorneys can ease the struggle for you.
Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian is a professional family law firm giving clients a small-firm experience in Fresno. We seek to understand every client’s legal situation and concerns before formulating a way forward. Speak to us today to discuss your legal dilemmas.