Losing a spouse is one of the most challenging things a person may have to go through. In some instances, the loss may come at an even higher price.
In the case of second marriages with children, a step-parent may take a healthy and active role in raising children. When the biological parent dies, that step-parent may wind up grieving the loss of the children as well. While it is typical for children to live with a biological parent, North Carolina law allows for third-parties to petition for custody as well. Explore what the court looks for and why a step-parent may end up continuing a relationship with a non-biological child.
When a third-party wants custody of a child, the court must look at many factors. First, the petitioner must demonstrate that he or she has the standing to bring the custody case by showing that a relationship with the children exists. For example, a grandparent who has only spent limited time with the children may not have enough standing to bring a custody action; however, one who resides in the home with the children most likely does. As such, the third-party must first demonstrate an established relationship with the children.
The standard by which most family courts decide custody is what course of action is best for the children. During a divorce, the judge may have to decide if one parent is unsuitable for custody or majority time-sharing. However, in the case of determining custody where a third-party files a petition, the judge may take the “best interest” standard a step further. In the case of a step-parent, the court may decide:
The court may rule that a step-parent or other third-party receives visitation rights, and in some cases, legal custody of children. Get more information into this process by contacting a family law attorney.