At one time, grandparent visitation was a hot topic. Today, however, third parties, who often include grandparents, are raising the children of other parents. At some indeterminate point in time, this third party may have standing to seek a form of custody under a guardianship legal proceeding or de facto custody statutes.
A natural parent has the constitutional right to raise his or her child, but the welfare and happiness of the children are ultimately of paramount importance. To overcome a natural parent’s right to custody a third party, there are three major factors1 a party may show, any one of which may be sufficient. These are not the only factors, but instead those that may play into a child’s best interests are key.
The first factor is unfitness, such as where a parent may be addicted to a drug or alcohol and unable to take care of themselves. Often times such a parent is homeless. The second is where a parent leaves a child with a third party for a long period of time and this third party is what the child knows as home. Third, occurs when a parent has voluntarily relinquished custody of the child to the third party and the child-third party has become so interwoven that to sever them would seriously mar and endanger the future happiness of the child.
We hope you find this information useful in understanding the current general Indiana law on third party custody. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. and is for general educational purposes only. It is not legal advice, or solicitation for legal services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle civil and criminal appeals from all Indiana state trial court, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or United States Supreme Court.