Who can apply for third-party custody?

If a child in Washington doesn’t have a stable home life, they might be able to live with someone else without going through the foster care system. A judge could award third-party custody to their grandparents, godparents, adult siblings or neighbor. However, this individual will have to prove that they can provide the best possible home for the child.

What is third-party custody?

In family law terms, third-party custody involves giving custody to anyone but the child’s biological parents. The judge might give a third party custody if the parents willingly terminate their parental rights. Someone could also get third-party custody if the biological parents abused the child or left them with another person for an extended period of time.

Virtually anyone can apply for third-party custody. This includes grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, family friends, neighbors and anyone else who wants to raise the child. However, they’ll need to prove that they have standing before they can file for custody. This means that they have a relationship with the child and can act in their best interests. A judge might give a petitioner third-party custody if they’ve housed the child for an extended period of time, especially if they’ve essentially become the child’s parent.

Before they grant a third party custody, the judge will look at the petitioner’s living situation. They might ask questions about their neighborhood, job, finances, proximity to school districts and anything else that could affect the child’s upbringing. If you’re seeking third-party custody, a custody attorney may help you prepare for the legal process.

Can you apply for third-party custody?

If you’re concerned about a child’s well-being, you might want to get custody of the child so that they can live with you instead of their biological parents. You might have no problem securing custody if the parents willingly give up their parental rights. However, if the parents don’t want to give up their rights, you might have a long legal battle ahead. An attorney may help you fight for the child’s right to live in a loving home environment.