How to Gain Custody of a Child That Is Not Yours: Overview

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By Divorce & Finance

How to terminate biological parental rights for adoptionHow to gain custody of a child that is not yours? You might think that the consent of the biological parent is necessary, but this is not the situation in every case. There are a few steps you need to take if you hope to gain custody of a child.

This article provides you with a lot of other alternatives in such circumstances. Thus, give it a read.

How To Obtain Custody of a Child That Is Not Yours?

To obtain custody of a child that is not yours, you need to follow some procedures. You’ll first need to determine whether you are eligible to gain custody of the child, request permission from the parents or demonstrate their unsuitability, and then prepare for a contested hearing.

You might also wonder: “can a family friend take custody of a child?” The answer depends on the particular circumstances. The ways to determine if a non-parent can take custody include if the parent is fit, consent of the parent, etc. These ways which determine the right to obtain the custody of the child are as follows:

– Identify Scenarios in Which Non-Parents Are Granted Custody

Child custody can be obtained in a few cases without any difficulty. The following are some of the reasons:

  • Adoption by a stepparent – You may desire to become the child’s parent because the kid is already living with you. In most cases, the biological parent must agree to the termination of parental rights.
  • Adoption of foster parents – If you have been caring for the child for some period of time, you may be able to adopt if the biological parents’ parental rights have been terminated.
  • Consent – Biological parents can voluntarily petition the court to have their parental rights terminated. You will be able to adopt as a result of this.
  • Consent guardianship – The parents’ parental rights are not lost when guardianship is established. You do, however, get custody and the authority to make decisions for the child, such as medical treatment and where they attend school. At any moment, a parent can withdraw their agreement to guardianship and regain custody of their children.
  • Physical or mental impairment – If the parents refuse to consent to the adoption, you may be able to demonstrate that they are unsuitable or otherwise incapable of parenting their child. This is discussed later in the article.

– Request Permission From the Parents

If the biological parents accept adoption or guardianship, the process becomes much easier. Both parties must agree. It is insufficient for simply one parent to agree. So the answer to the question “can you sign over custody of a child without going to court” is yes, but both parents need to be implicated.

– Determine Whether the Parents Are Unfit

If you wish to prove the parents are unfit, you should objectively assess their parenting abilities. Each state has its own definition of “unfit”. There are, however, some common examples:

  • The parent has physically, emotionally, or sexually abused the child.
  • The child’s parent has abandoned him or her. In other words, the parent is nowhere to be discovered.
  • The youngster is neglected by the parent. Neglect might be difficult to define. Judges generally prefer that children remain with their parents, so you will need to provide extensive evidence of neglect.

– Take Into Account Whether You Have a Guardian-Like Relationship With the Child

You will also need to demonstrate to the judge that you have a long-term relationship with the child and are entirely capable of providing for the kid in the same way that a parent would.

– Engage the Services of a Family Law Attorney

A knowledgeable attorney can assist you in analyzing your situation and determining if you are eligible to pursue child custody. Because the process is so involved, you might think about hiring someone to represent you. If one or both of the child’s biological parents are fighting for custody, you should have a lawyer represent you.

Further, you should ask the child custody lawyers during the consultation whether your state rules allows you to file for custody.

– Write a Petition to Gain Custody of a Child That Is Not Yours

The Petition must include comprehensive facts proving the Petitioner’s right to file the Petition, and it must notify all of the following:

  • The parents of the child
  • A person who has been granted custody or visitation rights by a court of law
  • The child’s guardian, often known as the Guardian ad Litem
  • Any other person that has previously appeared in the action and has claims to have custody or visitation rights.

The Court will dismiss the Petition unless the arguments of the Petitioner prove that all of the following are true:

  • The individual who files the petition is the child’s legal guardian
  • It would be “seriously harmful” to the kid if he or she remained or was placed in the custody of either of the child’s live legal parents who want to retain or seek custody
  • There is reason that the kid’s current environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, moral, or emotional health.

Alternatively, any of the following applies: 

  • One of the legal parents has died
  • The child’s parents are not married when the Petition is filed
  • The legal parents are involved in a pending case for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation at the time the Petition is filed.

How To Prepare for a Contested Hearing to Gain Custody of a Child That Is Not Yours

How to obtain custody of a child that is not yoursTo prepare for a contested hearing to gain custody of a child that is not yours, you should first dress properly. You’ll need to make your argument and submit evidence that demonstrates you can gain custody of the child, then examine witnesses, and finally, the judge will issue an order.

The considerations to follow while attending a contested hearing after it is determined that you are eligible for a non-parent custody includes your appearance, way of making argument, etc. Follow the below ways to get custody of the child via court:

– Dress for Success

Your appearance has the potential to create a great impression. Dress neatly in clean, well-pressed clothing. You are not required to wear anything that makes you uncomfortable.

– Make Your Argument

You will most likely submit evidence first as the side seeking custody. Witnesses can testify, and papers can be introduced as evidence. You must also demonstrate to the court your present relationship with the child, which means you will most likely testify.

– Examine the Witnesses for the Parents

Any biological parent contesting custody may also bring witnesses. They may also give testimony. Each witness will be cross-examined by your counsel.

– Receive the Decision of the Judge

The judge will determine whether or not to grant you custody at the end of the hearing. The judge will sign a final order, which you or your attorney may be required to complete. Keep a copy of the order for your records.

How to Terminate Biological Parental Rights for Adoption?

To terminate biological parents’ rights for adoption, you need to prove that the biological parent is unfit or has a criminal background. These are the cases where the court assumes you want child custody as a third party without the biological parents having any legal rights to the child.

In that situation, you must first have the birth parents’ rights terminated. This is referred to as a termination of parental rights.

– Terminate the Rights

These can be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily:

  • Voluntary termination means that both or one of the parents agrees to relinquish parental rights to the child.
  • In an involuntary termination, the rights of the parent will have to be terminated through a court order. In the event of an automatic restraining order, the parent’s custody would not be in the child’s welfare. It must be proven by clear and compelling evidence. This is because losing a child is the same as receiving the death penalty.

The child is now eligible for adoption because the biological parent’s rights have been terminated. To be clear, at least one biological parent’s rights must be terminated before adoption.

– Follow Adoptions Requirements

Before a judge may accept the adoption, the adoptive parents must obtain a criminal background report and a home study.

Furthermore, your adoption case may require the child to have legal counsel by an Attorney Ad Litem, an attorney who works only for the child and advocates for their best interests.


– Why Entering Into an Official Agreement Is Important for a Non-Parent?

Entering into an official agreement is important for a non-parent because, when obtaining custody, the non-parent needs to draft an agreement between them and the parent or guardian to legally protect themselves in the future. The agreement must state the key issues in writing.

It must contain the names of both parents and guardians, as well as the child’s name and birthdate. They can accomplish this without a lawyer, but they must produce this agreement to the local court for confirmation by a judge.

Non-parents put themselves in danger if they try to avoid the court entirely, as more often than not, the parent giving up legal custody will change their mind after a while and then deny any agreement ever existed.

– What Are Other Potential Adoption Situations?

Other potential adoption situations for non-parents include scenarios where they can be a guardian or may have a third party custody, or the child could be kept in safe custody with a non-biological parent. Some adoption situations can vary depending on particular state laws.

Following are these situations which mention potential adoption situations by a non-parent under the child custody laws of some states:

  • Involuntary Guardianship: Guardianships can be an excellent option to a dependency (DCS case) or parental rights termination. The parents’ rights are preserved, but they are effectively delegated to a third party until the parent can reclaim them.

Meanwhile, the kid is in a secured and stable home with someone willing and capable of caring for him or her. These guardianships are handled as the result of a Juvenile Court case (dependency/DCS case) and are not always voluntary, which means they do not require the parents’ consent.

  • Voluntary Guardianship: This is the most prevalent sort of guardianship. These are voluntary and are usually accomplished with parental approval. A common scenario is when a military parent is deployed and requires a third party to exercise parental rights over a child while they are away.

These guardianships are typically temporary in nature, and their purpose is to ensure that a kid has sufficient legal supervision during a parent’s absence or incapacity to provide adequately for the child.Custody of a child that is not yours


Make certain that the custody or adoption agreement is clear and includes provisions for the child’s custody rights, visitation schedules and child support. Then, before submitting the agreement to the court, make sure that everyone signs it in front of a notary public.

  • You can get custody if you can demonstrate that the parent abandoned their child or neglected the child.
  • You want to appear to be a responsible person while presenting your arguments in front of the judge.
  • In some custody cases, termination and adoption proceedings are inextricably linked. You cannot adopt a child whose parent has a greater right to them.
  • An attorney will inform the court that they consider adoption to be in the best interests of the kid.

We hope after reading this article, you might get a brief idea about the requirements to get custody of a child.

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