In Loco Parentis

There are many ways to establish authority and gain custody over a child that is not yours. One option is “Non-Parent Custody” also known as in loco parentis

In loco parentis is Latin for “in place of a parent.” Such is a person essentially treated as a parent by the child, and who has formed a meaningful relationship with the child for a substantial period of time.

In Arizona, a non-parent can request custody by alleging, among other things, that it would be significantly detrimental (harmful) for either of the child’s legal parents to have custody. This is a difficult burden to prove and sustain since it is typically viewed that parents have a fundamental right to the care, custody and management of their child(ren). Grandparents, step-parents, relatives and non-relatives should be prepared to prove that awarding custody to the legal parent(s) is not in the child’s best interest and would be substantially detrimental to the child.

In order to request visitation (as opposed to custody or primary placement) the non-parent must establish that the visitation is in the child’s best interest, as well as other criteria.

In 2013, the Grandparent’s Visitation statute was merged with the Arizona In Loco Parentis statute. The court has recognized that many families are often non-traditional. The idea is to allow a third party (Aunt, Sister, Grandparent, Cousin, etc.) to petition the court for what were traditionally reserved for parents.

The burden is high in order to be successful, and of course ultimately the court is concerned with the best interests of the child. However, in many instances this right is used to protect children and keep them in the family or with someone the child considers family and out of foster care.

To learn more information about your case that involves obtaining a child that is not yours, please contact Westby Law at 602.686.6375.

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