What Is a Non-Parent Custody Petition?

Non-parent Custody

A non-parent custody petition is for when people who are not the biological parents of a minor, make a formal written request to the courts to be granted the protective care or guardianship of a minor child. Non-parent custody is only allowed under certain circumstances and specific procedures must be followed when petitioning for it.

It is important to know that the laws for filing a non-parent custody petition differ from state to state and if you need legal advice about this, you should be sure that the lawyer you ask for this is licensed to practice this kind of law in the state where your petition will be taking place.

In general, when someone files a non-parent custody petition, they need to provide clear proof that a minor child will be harmed in some way if non-parent custody is not granted. Even though each state has their own set of laws and procedures for properly filing non-parent custody petitions, there are typically two primary ways to file for custody of a child if you are not the biological birth parent. These are:

  • Guardianship
  • Non-Parent Custody


A guardianship puts someone who is 18 years of age or older in the position of being legally responsible for the care of someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, in this context, a minor child whose biological parents also cannot provide for their basic needs. 

Adults wishing to get non-parent custody of a child need to apply for guardianship. In a “consent guardianship” the biological birth parents give written consent for non-parents to have custody of their children. In this form of custody, both of the biological parents must give consent. If one does not, this kind of guardianship will not be granted.

In many ways, this is the easiest way for a non-parent to get custody of a child but it also gives the biological parents the right to revoke consent and take the custody of their child/ren back. 

Non-Parent Custody Petitions

In loco parentis is a term that is used when filing for a non-parent custody petition. It means in place of the parents or instead of the parents. When a non-parent is trying to get custody of a child this way, they need to file it with the court that is in the jurisdiction where the child currently or permanently resides. 

A non-parent who is filing a custody petition needs to prove to the court that it is in the child’s best interests to be removed from the care of their biological parents or guardianship type of arrangement and be placed in the care of the non-parent who is filing for this. 

When a non-parent wants custody of a child, it is a long and involved process of giving formal notification to the child’s parents if they are living, or guardians and other interested parties, and of convincing the court that it is in the child’s best interest to be removed from their current situation.

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