Perhaps he is your nephew, or she is your granddaughter. Maybe you are not related at all. Regardless of your relationship, you have been there to wipe noses, help with homework, and listen for years. Perhaps the situation started as something temporary and informal, but through either necessity or desire, it is time to make your custody legal. The state calls this in loco parentis, but you have just referred to it as “being there.”
Arizona In Loco Parentis: The Key to Legally Establishing Custody or Visitation Rights
Children being cared for by non-parental guardians is not uncommon, even in a full-time situation. At some point, it may become prudent to establish a legal guardianship or custody, and fortunately the law has grown to accommodate non-traditional custody situations.
In order for someone other than a child’s legal parents to establish a legal guardianship, the court must award sole responsibility of personal decisions regarding the minor’s wellbeing and life. Children over the age of 14 are able to voice their opinion on who they would like to be their guardian, and children under 14 are appointed a guardian by the court. This is a common option for grandparents and stepparents to establish their rights in helping to raise a child. One common caveat that stops a guardianship in its tracks, however, is that the child’s parents must give written consent for the guardianship.
Establishing custody does not require parental permission, but it does involve many more legal hoops to jump through. The court requires that the non-parent prove their in loco parentis standing with the child, meaning that they currently act as the child’s parent and have for some time. The court must also determine whether the child’s wellbeing is at stake is they remain with either of their legal parents. In order for the court to further consider granting non-parental custody, one of the child’s legal parents must have died or been missing for over three months, or the parents must be legally separated, divorced, or have a divorce or annulment pending.
Getting the Legal Help to Make it Happen
In general, Arizona law sees it best to keep a child with his or her parents. This places the burden on you to prove that the child’s wellbeing will be negatively affected by staying with their parents. It can be an uphill battle, and securing experienced legal help can help you ensure that you have a team that will fight tirelessly for your case.
If you are trying to establish non-parental guardianship or custody of a child in Scottsdale, Phoenix, or the surrounding areas, contact the Arizona family law attorneys of Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 to discuss your case.