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Gaining third-party child custody

42251126_S.jpgWhen people think of child custody, they often think about parents who are divorcing, but in some cases, a third party may wish to gain custody of a child. Often, this may be the grandparents, but it could be someone else as well. People in Missouri who are considering petitioning for third-party custody should keep several things in mind.

One is that courts will usually look at whether or not the person has an existing relationship with the child and should be a custodian. This often means immediate family members, but in some cases, a friend or other unrelated person might petition for custody. Generally, there needs to be an extraordinary situation in place for a successful third-party custody petition such as the likelihood that the child may experience abuse or neglect otherwise.

When making a decision regarding third-party custody, a judge will use many of the same criteria that might be used in a parental custody case. Aspects that might be considered include how well the third party can provide for the child, the child's relationship with the third party, the best interests of the child, the child's own wishes, the parents' wishes and how the child will adjust to the community and school.

If parents are unable to care for the child and the child has been removed from the home by social services or the parents are deceased, getting third party custody might be less difficult than if the parents are alive and wish to continue caring for the child. Courts usually make an effort to keep children with their biological parents, but there might also be a range of circumstances in which this is not possible such as abuse or incarceration. People who wish to try to gain third-party custody may want to discuss their situation with an attorney.

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