Third Person Custody Suits

Obtaining custody of a child can be a stressful endeavor for parents; but what if you are not the child's biological or adoptive parent and are seeking custody? As you can imagine, the emotional and legal wrangling required in third person custody suits can be even more challenging. For precisely this reason, you want the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins in your corner to handle your custody dispute.

In the United States, 2.7 million grandparents bore primary responsibility for grandchildren in 2010. It is no wonder, then, that many of these grandparents seek legal custody of these children at some point in time. Grandparents and others seeking custody of a child must meet several legal requirements in Michigan.

Gaining Custody as a Third Person

Michigan law considers anyone other than a parent to be a third party. Any guardian or limited guardian does have legal standing (a demonstrable interest) to attempt to gain custody of a child. In the case of a limited guardian, that standing is lost if the parent or parents have complied with the judge's orders during the guardianship placement.

In addition to these individuals, a third person has standing to request custody of a child in two specific circumstances:

  1. The child was placed in the custody of the third party, and that third party filed a motion for permanent custody before the temporary order expired. It is possible the third party has legal standing if, under the laws of Michigan or another state, the child was then placed for adoption with the third party, and the child lived with the third party for at least six months; or
  2. If the child's biological parents were not ever married to each other, and the custodial parent is missing or dead, and the other parent lacks legal custody. If the third person has established a relationship to the child by blood, marriage or adoption within the fifth degree (such as great-great aunt), legal standing exists.

The Process

In order to pursue custody, any person who is not a parent of the child must file a motion or complaint with the court. The court will then order a custody evaluation involving interviews of the third party, the child, and the parents.

As in all Michigan custody cases, the court presumes that the child's best interests are served with the parents, unless proven otherwise. The parental presumption may be rebutted with convincing evidence that the parents are unfit, or that substantial abuse or neglect endangers the child. In the event the court does award custody to a third person in lieu of biological or adoptive parents, those parents may be awarded visitation. They may be required to pay child support, as well.

How to Proceed

If you are not the biological or adoptive parent of a child, but wish to pursue custody of that child, you simply cannot manage the legal maneuverings without experienced, compassionate legal support. Attorney Michael A. Robbins has extensive familiarity with custody laws in Michigan.

Contact the Bloomfield Hills Law Office of Michael A. Robbins for a confidential consultation today.