Temporary Custody by Extended Family Members
A grant of temporary custody allows an individual to act as a guardian for a minor who is not his or her biological child. Once a person has become the temporary custodian of a child, he or she has the duty to exercise parental rights to ensure the wellbeing of the minor. This can have important consequences on both the temporary guardian and the child, so if you are involved in this type of custody situation, it is important that you retain an experienced attorney who can help explain the process and protect the rights of all parties.Extended Family Members
In order to be granted temporary custody, the petitioner must be an adult or an emancipated minor as well as an extended family member or step-parent of the child. An extended family member is a person who is:
- A relative of a minor child within the third degree, by blood or marriage to the parent; or
- The stepparent of a minor child, if the stepparent is currently married to the parent of the child and is not a party in a pending dissolution, separate maintenance, domestic violence, or other civil or criminal proceeding in any court involving one or both of the child’s parents as an adverse party.
In order to bring proceedings in family court to determine temporary custody of a minor, the petitioning individual must be:
- An extended family member who has obtained the signed, notarized consent of the child’s legal parents; or
- An extended family member who is caring for the child full-time in the role of a substitute parent, and with whom the child is presently living.
In addition, the petitioner must also:
- Currently have physical custody of the child and have had physical custody of the child for at least 10 days in any 30-day period within the last 12 months; and
- Not have signed, written documentation from a parent that is sufficient to enable the custodian to do all of the things necessary to care for the child.
If a parent does not consent to temporary custody of the minor, the petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that the child’s parents are unfit to provide for the care of the child. In order to be considered unfit, a court must find that the parent has abused, abandoned, or neglected the child.Duties
Individuals with temporary custody over a child are required to:
- Consent to all necessary and reasonable medical and dental care for the child;
- Secure copies of the child’s records, held by third parties, that are necessary for the care of the child, including medical, dental, psychiatric, and educational records and birth certificates;
- Enroll the child in school and grant or withhold consent for a child to be tested or placed in special school programs; and
- Do all other things necessary for the care of the child.
Either parent of the minor child can petition the court to end temporary custody. The court will comply if:
- The parent is found to be a fit parent; or
- All parties consent.
The court may also modify an order granting temporary custody if the parties consent or if modification is in the best interest of the child.
If you are involved in a dispute regarding child custody, please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.