Courts can award custody of a child to a non-biological parent if and only if the biological parents are deemed unfit. Typical non parental custodians are close friends or relatives who step in to fill what they see as a parental void. Non parental custody cases often ensue from CPS actions, parental drug use, or domestic violence.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the difference between a dependency case and non parental custody? Dependency actions and non parental custody are two solutions to the same problem. In both types of cases, the requesting party seeks to remove children from dangerous situations and place them elsewhere. The following are some of the differences between the two legal actions:
- The state initiates and pays for the prosecution of dependency cases, whereas private individuals initiate and fund non parental custody actions.
- Private individuals have very little say over whether and how the state prosecutes a dependency matter, whereas private individuals have more control over prosecution of non parental custody cases.
- Child Protective Services (CPS) plays a very active role in initiating, investigating, and prosecuting dependency cases; whereas CPS might have a lesser or no part in a non parental custody matter.
- Dependency cases take place in juvenal court, whereas non parental custody actions proceed in the regular family court locations of superior court.
What is the difference between adoption and non parental custody? As with dependency, adoption can be an alternative to non parental custody. The following are some differences between adoption and non parental custody proceedings:
- No child support payments result from an adoption, whereas non parental custody can and often does result in a child support obligation. Of note, the child support payments from non parental custody cases tend to be very low due to the biological parents’ minimal earnings.
- Non parental custody can be easier to reverse than an adoption if the parties decide to do so. This can be relevant if the non parental custodian believes he or she might eventually consider returning child custody to the biological parent(s).
- An biological parent who gives a up for adoption does not receive a parenting plan entitling him or her to visitation (residential time) with the child, whereas a non parental custody case often does result in a parenting plan and visitation. Of note, visitation in a non parental custody action tends to be minimal and supervised.
- An adoption generally requires consent and cooperation between the biological parent(s) and adoptive parent(s), whereas non parental custody often involves a court battle over custody if the parties cannot agree.
Can a non parental custodianship be terminated, returning custody to the biological parent(s)? Yes, though it usually requires the consent of the non parental custodian.