Ventura Child Custody Attorney for Aunts and Uncles
Families take care of each other. In the event that the parents of a child are not fit to care for their children, whether for medical reasons or reasons pertaining to abuse or crime, other family members may be willing to take over their care. In many cases, grandparents or even aunts and uncles may take over custody of the children.
The Ventura, CA child custody lawyers for aunts and uncles at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth represent families who are seeking custody of their nieces and nephews in California. For help with your case, contact our attorneys today to set up a free legal consultation on your child custody case. Our number is (805) 643-5555.
How to Get Custody of a Niece or Nephew in California
Under California law, the primary people who have standing to claim custody rights are the biological parents. Anyone else who wants custody of the children is a third party. Typically, third parties cannot claim custody rights over children if the child already has parents in good standing, but courts will consider giving custody to someone else if the parent is unfit or unable to care for the children.
Courts have many reasons for taking children away from their parents. In cases where the parents have committed crimes against their children or where abuse, drug use, other criminal activity, or other circumstances justify taking away a parent’s custody rights, the court may need someone else to care for the children. In some cases, courts may look to put children into the foster care system, but keeping the children in the family may be much better for their development and mental and emotional health.
When deciding who can take custody besides the parents, the courts have an order of preference as to whom to choose. The parents are the first choice, but if they are both unable to take custody, then the court looks first to other adults the child has been living with. This could apply to an aunt or uncle who has been caring for the children in an informal way or a foster parent. Next, the court looks to “any other person or persons deemed by the court to be suitable and able” to care for the child. Again, this could include aunts and uncles if they step forward to the court and demonstrate their willingness to take custody of the children. Otherwise, the court may look to competent foster parents in the foster system.
Aside from custody, aunts and uncles can care for their nieces and nephews if the parents grant them guardianship. As a parent, you can draw up documents giving parental rights to your sibling and their spouse in the event that you are unable to care for your children. This can be helpful for parents with medical issues or parents who frequently leave town for work. This allows an aunt or uncle with a guardianship to step into the role of parent in their bother or sister’s absence.
Getting Custody for an Aunt or Uncle Over a Parent’s Objections
As mentioned, courts prefer to give custody to a parent over another adult. This means that there must be some problem with the parent’s ability to care for their children that prevents the court from leaving the children in the parent’s custody. In some cases, the parents may lose custody because of another legal case brought by Child Protective Services or because of criminal charges against the parents. In other cases, the aunt or uncle may need to take action to have their niece or nephew removed from a dangerous household.
To have your niece or nephew removed from a dangerous household with their birth parents, you need to go to court. Stripping a parent of custody rights requires strong evidence that the child is unsafe in their parent’s household. In most cases, this means showing that leaving the parent with custody would be a “detriment” to the child.
The court’s ultimate basis for making custody decisions is always the best interests of the children. The following evidence will all be seen as harmful to a child, and any of the following allegations may be used to help prove that a parent is a detriment to the child’s well-being:
- Evidence of child abuse
- Evidence of spousal abuse in front of the children
- Severe addiction or alcoholism
- Repeat drug use or drug arrests
- Repeat criminal violations
- Malnourishment or neglect
- Dangerous healthcare decisions and practices
There are additional circumstances that a court might consider detrimental to the child’s safety, and evidence of these dangers can also be presented to a court in an attempt to get custody of your niece or nephew. Talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case to see if a judge might grant you child custody as an aunt or uncle.
Call Our Ventura Child Custody Lawyers for Aunts and Uncles to Schedule a Free Consultation
Many child custody cases are complex, especially when adults beyond the parents are involved in the custody claim. For help seeking custody of your niece or nephew, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our Ventura aunt and uncle child custody lawyers represent aunts and uncles seeking custody of their nieces and nephews. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.