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Preparing to seek nonparental custody

Child custody conflicts are usually between parents of a child, but not always. In some cases, a party other than a biological parent may seek custody of a child, and courts are usually willing to consider a compelling argument for nonparental custody if the circumstances justify it. If you know a child who you believe may have a safer, more beneficial upbringing with you, you need to determine the strongest grounds you have for requesting custody.

When considering custody of a child, courts begin with the assumption that both parents should parent equally and then work backward before awarding custody to any particular party. This means that if one parent can assume custody of the child appropriately, the courts are almost always going to place the child with a single biological parent over another relative or unrelated party. However, parents may forfeit custody in a number of ways.

If, for instance, one or both parents are abusive or create an unsafe environment, such as a parent struggling with substance abuse, they may lose custody of a child. Similarly, if the parents of the child have such limited resources or physical or mental capacity that they cannot appropriately care for a child, courts may consider placing the child in another home. However, the further removed an individual seeking custody is in relation to a child, the more additional candidates a court is likely to consider before determining the child's placement.

For the sake of the child you love, you should consult with an experienced attorney to assess your grounds for seeking nonparental custody. Understanding the specific challenges you face can prove invaluable as you prepare a strategy to seek custody of the child you want to give a loving home.

Source: Findlaw, "How Child Custody Decisions Are Made," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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