St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

Can a Non-Family Member Get Custody of My Child?

If you are preparing for a custody battle and you worry that a non-family member can get custody of your child, you need to realize that it is unlikely but not impossible for that to happen.

Families are not the same, and the dynamics that happen during a custody battle can stir up the lives of all the persons involved. Each case can have tricky nuances and hard decisions to take. With third-party custody claims – meaning that a person who isn’t the biological or adoptive parent of a child is claiming custody or visitation rights – the case gets even more complicated.

In Missouri, one of the basic principles in guiding the custodial settlement is that a child’s well-being is best kept if he is with his parents. Following this principle, it has been challenging for a non-parent to win a claim to custody, even when they had the child’s best interest in mind. However, there are cases when a person who is close enough to the child, without being a parent, can obtain custody or at least visitation rights.

If you are preparing for a custody battle and you worry that a non-family member can get custody of your child, you need to realize that it is doubtful but not impossible for that to happen.

When Does a Third-Party Receive Custody of a Child?

If you want to understand better where you’re standing, we will explain the circumstances that can lead to your child’s non-parent winning custody.

One of the most common situations that can end with that arrangement is when one or both parents are unfit, unsuitable, or unable to provide the proper conditions for the child’s well-being. If the parents have passed away or have trouble providing a decent life for the family, the child may end up in a third person’s custody, given that they can prove the relationship to the child is strong, and they have the means and best interest to offer them the best life possible.

Another possibility is to give third-party custodial rights without limiting the parents’ rights. For example, a grandparent may claim custodial rights, or at least visitation rights if they prove that their presence in the child’s life is important and beneficial to the minor.

Since we have mentioned grandparents, it’s important to know that they do have a better chance than any other non-parent to be allowed in a child’s life, but that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who can claim the exclusive or partial rights to custody or visitation. A parent’s current spouse, a caregiver (like a nanny), or even a family friend could come forward and propose themselves as legal guardians.

St. Louis Family Law Attorney

In Missouri, the law favored the parents, no matter what, for a long time. Only being unfit or unable to provide for the minor could make you lose parental rights. Currently, if your particular case has complicated conditions and a third-party non-family member steps in, you need to defend your claims from them too.

If you are in this situation, contact a St. Louis divorce attorney with plenty of experience in family law and follow their advice to present your case in the best light possible.

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