Sometimes, relatives of a child may find themselves in a situation where they may find it necessary to seek custody of a child. This can include grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, but in fact a person does not necessarily have to be a relative of a child to seek custody. While most child custody and family law cases are between parents, it is possible for non-parents to file for custody of a child. These cases involve juvenile law, and this article gives a summary of what is required.
How Can Relatives Seek Custody?
In Alabama, a non-parent may file a petition with a juvenile court asking for custody of a child. In order to be successful, that person must prove that the child is dependent, that the parents are unfit, and that awarding custody of the child to the petitioner is in the child’s best interest.
Proving that a child is dependent requires a person to show that, without custody being taken from the parents, that child would be dependent on the State of Alabama. Common examples of these kinds of situations are substance abuse, abuse and/or neglect of a child, abandonment, or severe mental illness on the part of one or both parents. As part of this requirement, the person seeking custody must show that the parents are unfit parents.
The person seeking custody must then show that awarding them custody is in the best interest of the child. Typically, a person will need to show that they have an ongoing relationship with the child and are able to take care of the child.
These types of child custody petitions are frequently referred to as dependency petitions, and they are filed in and handled by the Juvenile Court.
Who Can File For Custody?
Any person who is nineteen years of age or older and who has a relationship with the child can file a dependency petition. Though a person does not have to be a relative of a child in order to file a petition in these types of child custody cases, usually the petitioner is related to the child. Grandparents commonly file dependency petitions in Juvenile Court, as do aunts, uncles and cousins.
What Should You Do If You Are A Relative Seeking Custody Of A Child?
Child custody, family law and juvenile law cases are complicated. While a person can represent themselves in court, it is advisable to consult an attorney and have representation if possible.
If you are a non-parent and are seeking custody of a child, J.P. Coleman Law, LLC, Attorneys at Law has the background and experience to provide the guidance you need to understand this complex area of law and the representation you need to give you the best chance of getting the outcome you seek. Their attorneys have helped families throughout Alabama’s Baldwin County area navigate this difficult experience and will strive to achieve the fairest outcome possible. Follow their Twitter page for more legal tips, visit their website to learn about their juvenile law services, or call (251) 947-6247 to schedule a consultation today.