Can a Grandparent or Sibling Win Custody of a Child?

It’s undeniable that determining child custody can be one of the most contentious and emotional aspects of any divorce proceeding. While figuring out your own financial future is important, nothing is as crucial as making sure that children are well taken care of.

In most instances, custody of children will go to one or both parents. However, in certain limited circumstances, a non-parent may be granted custody if it is in the child’s best interest. This can also be the case outside of divorce proceedings, if parents are failing to take adequate care of their children.

If you’re seeking to obtain custody of a child as a non-parent, it’s important to consult an experienced family law attorney to determine your rights and options.

The Best Interest of the Child

When determining child custody, the child’s best interest is the single most important factor that a California court will consider. While this may sound intuitive, the standard is very broad and can be difficult to understand.

More often than not, it’s presumed that the child’s best interest is to live with one or both of his or her biological parents. The preference for child custody to rest with the parents can be difficult to overcome, but it’s not impossible.

Custody can be granted to non-parents in California, most commonly grandparents, aunts, or uncles, under limited circumstances. The non-parent seeking custody must make a strong showing that parental custody would be detrimental to the child.

Proving that parental custody is detrimental is typically an uphill battle. A non-parent must present “clear and convincing evidence” that granting custody to the non-parent as opposed to a parent would be in the best interest of the child. Factors that can lead to a finding that parental custody would be detrimental are things that impact the child’s safety, health, education, and general welfare, including:

  • Evidence of abuse
  • Medical issues
  • Ongoing legal problems
  • Economic struggles
  • Psychological issues
  • Substance abuse

California courts are also more likely to grant custody to a non-parent in cases where children have already been living with the non-parent in a stable environment and have formed a strong bond. In such cases, a court may overrule the parental preference and find that returning the child to the parent’s custody would be detrimental to the child’s best interests.

How an Experienced Pasadena Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Few things are as important as ensuring the welfare of a child. In a perfect world, challenging parental custody would not be an issue. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Whether due to a contentious divorce or other life difficulties, sometimes a non-parent can provide the most stable living arrangements for a child. At the Kearney Baker Law Office, we understand that the best interest of the child should come before anything else.

Our experienced family law attorneys have over 70 years helping clients with child custody matters. We’re intimately familiar with California law governing child custody arrangements and can help you determine your rights. If you’re a non-parent considering petitioning for child custody, contact us today for an initial consultation.