Custody of a Child with Someone Other than a Parent

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Custody of a Child with Someone Other than a Parent

 

In some circumstances, a non-parent may be the best person to have custody of the child.  If the person has been caring for the child and the parent is unfit a custody Petition can be filed with the court.  A.R.S. § 25-409. The Petition must be accompanied by an Affidavit that provides facts to support placement with the non-parent.  Before filing a custody petition in family court the Petitioner should consider their goals, and the long term consequences.

Some questions to consider before filing are:

  • Do you want to get the parent treatment for the problem?
  • Is the situation likely temporary? Or is it permanent?
  • Should the parent have an ongoing relationship with the child even if they aren’t the primary care giver?
  • Do you desire to adopt the child?

 

***IF the answer to any of these questions is yes, then filing dependency petition or a termination of parental rights action might be better choice.

The Basics for a Custody Petition by a Non-parent are:

  1. The person filing the petition acts as a parent to the child AND
  2. It would be significantly detrimental to the child to live in the care of either legal parent AND
  3. The last custody order is more than 12 months old, unless the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health is seriously endangered; AND
  4. One of the following is met:  A) One of the legal parents is deceased, B) The child’s legal parents are not married to each other. OR C) The child’s legal parents are separated or divorced.

 

What do I have show the Judge?

There is a high burden to overcome in order to convince the judge that placement with a non-parent is in the child’s best interest.  Cases in this area are highly fact-specific and the outcomes depend on the specific details of each situation. In other words, we can’t easily tell you exactly under which circumstances a Judge would grant a non-parent custody petition or even if that petition is the best action to file. Contact our office for a case assessment meeting to review your facts and supporting documents to determine which legal option will work best so that you can protect and care for the child.

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