Child custody and Visitation in Cases in which there is No Divorce

Although the issue of custody and visitation is usually part of the divorce, the parents that are in the process of divorce are not the only people who can be involved in this situation. Custody disputes arise between parents who never married; grandparents who wish to enforce their right to visit their grandchildren; and in rare occasions, between relatives or persons close to the child who is applying for custody. Below is a discussion of cases involving parents without getting married.

Parents who are not married

When the parents of a child are not married, the rules require that you give to the mother individually the physical custody of the minor, unless the parent is exercising any action to be granted to him the custody. A single father often cannot win custody of the child to be a good mother, but you can follow certain guidelines to make sure that you are awarded, so another form of custody, such as visitation rights.

For parents who are not married, and contesting the custody of a minor child, the options for a decision on the custody are almost the same as that in the case of couples who divorce: child custody and visitation will be resolved through an agreement between the parents or by the family court. However, unlike divorcing couples, couples without getting married do not need to solve any complicated issue (or contentious) related to the division of property and child support payment for the spouse; therefore, the decision focuses almost exclusively in the custody of the child. For this reason, the resolution of custody and visitation can be much more simple for the parents who are not married.

If out-of-court parents without getting married is not coming to an agreement on child custody and visitation, the matter will have to be resolved before the court of the familiar.

Particularly when making decisions involving unmarried parents, the paramount consideration of the court will be to identify the “primary caretaker” of the child.

The custody to third party

In some cases, people who are not the parents of a minor child may apply for custody of the child; including the extended family, grandparents, uncles(as) and to close friends. Some states label this situation as custody “non-paternal(maternal)” or “third person”. (Note: other states refer to the purpose of the third party to obtain custody of a minor child, as to obtain “guardianship”).

Whatever the label, most states set specific procedures that they must follow the people (who are not parents) who want custody of a minor. The process usually begins when the people who want custody sent a document called a “petition for custody, non-parental” (or similar name) to the court, which needed the relationship between the person and the child, the state of the child’s parents (if they live, die, or if their whereabouts is unknown), and the reasons why the person is looking for (and for which he should be granted) custody. Generally, you must also deliver a copy of this request to the child’s parents, if they are still alive and knows his whereabouts.

Grandparents and visitation rights

In some situations, and also seek custody of the grandchildren, the grandparents can also enforce his legal right to visit their grandchildren –if that right is interfered with by the child’s parents– for example, after a divorce or a separation. The 50 states and the district of Columbia vary in the laws that protect the rights of grandparents to visit their grandchildren.