Blog

A Modern Family – Third Parties Raising Children

The definitions of  “parenthood” and “family” continue to evolve. Today, it is not uncommon for a child to have a parent-child relationship with someone other than the biological parents. As the needs of children change, and as society changes, so does the law surrounding custody and parenting time.

Therefore, a third party who lives in a family-like environment with a child may become that child’s psychological parent. This requires the consent of the child’s legal parent.  Examples include when a grandparent or aunt takes care of a grandchild or niece.  This can happen, for example, when the legal parent has a mental health issue or drug or alcohol problem.

The Psychological Parent

The following elements can create the role of psychological parent:

  • Entrusted to care for the child.
  • Development of a parental relationship with the child for a significant length of time.
  • Living with and bonded with the child.

A third party can be deemed a psychological parent when these elements are met.  This psychological parent’s role becomes akin to the role of the natural parent.  If a court is called upon to make a determination between the legal parent and the psychological parent, the court uses a best-interests-of-the-child standard.

Termination of Rights

There are situations where a third party seeks to terminate the legal rights of a natural parent and obtain custody of a child. Here, the party may seek to become the guardian of the child. In a guardianship application, the prospective guardian must show that the parent is unfit, or has abandoned the child, or has committed some other gross misconduct with exceptional circumstances, to overcome the deference given to legal parents.

The Kinship Relationship

In a situation where a third party seeks to care for a child but not extinguish parental rights, a kinship legal guardianship provides a viable alternative. A kinship relationship is where a relative or family friend is connected to a child, or a child’s parents, by an established positive psychological or emotional relationship.

Adoption

Adoption is a viable option in certain circumstances. It is the most permanent legal option for those seeking to obtain custody. Adoptive parents stand on equal footing with legal parents. They have the same rights and protections under the law.

As we see the definition of family expanding, so too does the law surrounding those issues. As always, the best interests of the child remain paramount.  The best interests can come from the love, support, and stability from someone other than a biological parent.

If you have questions about this post or any other family law matter, please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com.

Back to Blog
SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
Can You Adopt Your Partner’s Child in a Same-Sex Relationship?

Can You Adopt Your Partner’s Child in a Same-Sex Relationship? According to the federal government, 15% of same-sex couples have children as a part of their household. This could include children who were adopted or biologically conceived by one or both of the parents. In that case, there are parenting issues at play if the…

Read More
Blog
How to Talk to Your Partner About a Prenuptial Agreement

When polled, 62% of divorce lawyers said they have seen an increase in the number of their clients seeking a prenuptial agreement. However, going from interest to actually having a signed agreement requires a great deal of talking and negotiation. Here is how you should raise the topic of a prenuptial agreement with your partner….

Read More
Blog
What Happens When a Spouse Says No to a Divorce?

While New Jersey has the lowest divorce rate in the country, it does not mean that divorces are easy in the state. Some spouses deliberately make it hard for the other spouse by saying no to everything divorce-related. However, New Jersey has laws to prevent one spouse from taking away the other’s right to get…

Read More
Blog
Preparing for Your Divorce Mediation Session

Up to 80% of divorce cases that go to mediation end successfully with agreements reached throughout the process. Nonetheless, you need to prepare extensively for this process if you want to be successful in resolving issues in your case. Here are some tips on how to ready yourself for mediation. Mediation Can Result in a…

Read More
Blog
How Debt Is Handled During a Divorce

Recent statistics show that the average American household carries roughly $67,000 in consumer debt. This can be a thorny problem when the couple is in the process of getting divorced with a variety of different possible outcomes. In New Jersey, you cannot simply assume that this debt will be divided exactly down the middle. The…

Read More
Blog
Custody Challenges for Unmarried Parents

Up to 40% of children in the United States are born outside marriage, and the rates are rising. This presents some unique issues in custody cases, even though there are many similarities to custody issues between married parents. You should seek the advice of a divorce lawyer if you are an unmarried parent who has…

Read More

Disclaimer and information can be found here, including links to descriptions and selection methodologies. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Call Now ButtonCall Us