When many people think of child custody, the parents are often some of the first people to come to mind—as they should. Parents play important roles in the lives of their children. Courts want to keep the best interests of the children in mind, so they try to keep children with their parents if possible.

However, there are situations in which staying with a parent is not in the child’s best interest. In some cases, it may not even be possible. While parents cannot be forced to give up custody of their children under usual circumstances, the courts can intervene if the children are not being cared for properly. If this is the case, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even close family friends can seek custody of a child.

Getting Custody of a Child

Anyone who is in the child’s life and plays an important role can ask the court for child custody. However, the judge must determine if extraordinary circumstances apply. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include:

  • The parents have been abusing or neglecting the child.
  • The parents have abandoned the child.
  • The parents are in prison.
  • The parents are dead.
  • The parents are otherwise unfit to care for the child.

If the court finds that none of the above situations apply, then the parents get to maintain custody of the child. If the above do apply, then the court must determine who should get legal custody based on the child’s best interests. This is based on several factors, including the age of the child, the child’s wishes, the child’s needs, the ability of the requestor to care for the child and the psychological health of the requestor.

Anyone who has been a major part of the child’s life can request custody. Grandparents are most often the ones to seek custody, but aunts, uncles, stepparents, partners of deceased parents, foster parents and adoptive parents may also seek custody. The judge will look at the person’s presence in the child’s life. For example, a long-lost aunt who has seen the child only once or twice may not qualify, but a grandparent who lives around the corner and sees the child at least weekly would be a good choice.

If the parents are not willing to give up custody of the child, then it’s a good idea to seek legal help to protect the interests of the child. If a person other than the parents are granted legal custody, it may or may not be permanent. If the circumstances change, the court can decide if it would be better for the child to remain with the third party or go back to his or her parents.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Today

Child custody laws can be complicated. The courts are looking out for the best interests of the child, so they want the child’s parents to have custody if possible. It must be proved that the parents are unfit before grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members can step in. If you are a third party seeking custody a child, seek help from Brooklyn divorce attorney Theodore Alatsas ESQ. He is familiar with grandparents’ custody rights and can advise you of the law. Contact him at (718) 233-2903 to schedule a free consultation.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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