Grandparents’ Rights / 3rd Party Rights
Parents aren’t the only people concerned about a child’s welfare. In many cases, extended family can be an excellent resource to help a child when the parents are going through difficult divorce proceedings or when the parents are otherwise unable to give the care that the child needs and deserves.
There are strict procedures to give non-parent parties (which may include grandparents, former step-parents, aunts or uncles, etc.) custody or legal decision-making ability. To do so, the non-parent will have to establish that they stand “In Loco Parentis” to the child. This is a Latin term that means “in place of a parent.” Basically, a non-parent will need to establish that they have formed a significant relationship with the child and for a substantial period of time. Because courts favor parental rights over those of non-parents, and because the child’s safety is so important, these cases can be difficult to win. However, as you know, sometimes they are so important to win precisely because of the best interests of the child.
Even if there is no need for a non-parent party to assume “In Loco Parentis” status, they may need court protection to preserve visitation rights. If access to and visitation with this non-parent party is determined to be in the best interests of the child, the court can provide legal protection of visitation time.
Our family law attorneys have extensive experience in protecting the rights of third parties. Contact us so that we can discuss your case and establish protections as soon as possible.