Unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to raise children. Even with the best of intentions, some people simply don’t have the necessary skills or means to care for their kids. For instance, they may suffer an injury or another health problem that incapacitates them.
Whatever the case, it is sometimes necessary for non-parents to take custody of children. This can apply to a child’s relatives or even to someone who isn’t bonded by blood.
In this article, we will present situations where a third party can take custody of a child, even if that child’s parents are still alive.
In Florida, a parent can agree to allow another to care for their kids. To do so, they must sign over their parental rights.
This custody transfer can be temporary or permanent, depending on the need. Parents may need time to get back on their feet after a job loss, and a temporary arrangement would be appropriate.
Petitions by a Third Party
Florida also allows close family members to plead for custody of a child. To be successful, they must prove that the child’s parent is unfit and endangering the child.
The state will not revoke a parent’s rights without a good reason. If you think a parent is unfit, you must build a case, almost as if you were going to trial. This will require the help of a good attorney. They can gather evidence, question witnesses, and so forth.
Moreover, you must prove that taking custody is in the child’s best interests. That means building your case on two levels. First, you must prove the biological parent’s unfitness, then you must prove your benefit to the child. Again, this will require the help of a skilled attorney.
Keep in mind, the court ultimately decides the outcome of a petition. It focuses on the best interests of the child first, but it also wants to preserve a parent’s rights whenever possible. If the court believes that a parent is willing and able to change, it may put them in a program to help.
When a child is in immediate danger, the court will probably remove the child from their parent. If the parent can prove their fitness, they may be able to regain their rights. They will probably be forced to undergo continued observation before “graduating” from any social programs the court ordered.
Types of Custody
Generally, there are two different kinds of custody you can have over a child: physical and legal.
Physical custody refers to having the child in your possession for an extended period. You are responsible for their health, nourishment, hygiene, and so on.
Legal custody is decision-making power over the child. It mostly concerns the child’s educational and healthcare needs.
Legal and physical custody can come in a huge variety of combinations. A third party may have only physical custody, but they may need to refer to the parent for the child’s education or healthcare. Perhaps the parent has authority over only one of those two areas, or they can share decision-making powers with the physical custodian. The list of possibilities stretches on, especially if the child has two, unmarried parents.
When it becomes necessary for an outside adult to take custody of a child, our firm can help. For a free consultation, call us today at (407) 753-4111 or contact us online.