Seeking custody of a child is always a complex process, even in favorable conditions. However, when individuals other than the biological parents of a child choose to seek custody, they must prepare themselves for a difficult path to caring for the child they love. While courts generally prefer to keep a child with his or her parents, certain situational justifications of placing the child elsewhere do deserve consideration.
If you hope to obtain custody of a child who is not biologically yours, you must present a compelling case to the court expressing why gaining custody of the child is ultimately in his or her best interests. Nonparental custody decisions usually come down to whether or not the court hearing the case believes that handing custody over to someone other than a parent truly does benefit the child or removes the child from some imminent danger.
The nature of your relationship to the child is also important. Generally speaking, the more closely related you are to child, the greater consideration a court gives to your petition for custody. However, in some instances, a court may award custody to an individual who is not actually biologically related to a child at all, assuming that other safe, available relationships in the child's life do not provide better custody options.
Pursuing nonparental custody is an important goal for so many individuals who care about the safety and well-being of children in their lives. Unfortunately, this path is rarely a simple one. An attorney can enable you to understand the full scope of the issues you face while keeping your rights secure.
Source: Findlaw, "How Child Custody Decisions Are Made," accessed Oct. 27, 2017