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When Can an Aunt or Uncle Petition for Custody?


In most circumstances, family law courts will do what they can to ensure children are raised by fit parents. During a divorce proceeding, for example, a judge will examine how each parent cares for the children, or will appoint a social worker to make this observation instead, before deciding how child custody will be managed. If one parent is found more responsible than the other, that parent will be more likely to get full physical custody.

However, in some circumstances, one or both parents can be found to be unfit to care for their children. If the court doesn’t think a child is safe in the care of his or her biological parents, a judge will look for alternative guardians.

In cases such as these, a third party can gain custody if a child, particularly in some of the following circumstances:

  • Both parents are living, but neither parent is fit to care for a child.
  • The custodial parent has died, and the surviving parent is unfit or unwilling to take care of the child.
  • Both parents have voluntarily relinquished their rights to the child.
  • The child has been living with the third party for an extended period of time already.

Likewise, according to California Family Code 3042, children who are of a sufficient age and capacity to reason might be able to voice their opinion to the court regarding their potential guardian. If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court, he or she can do so unless the court determines it is not in the child’s best interest.

If you’re an uncle or aunt who wishes to ask the court for custody of your niece or nephew, let us help. Our skilled Fresno family law attorneys have more than 30 years of experience to offer you and your family. Let us see what we can do to meet your legal goals.

Contact us at (559) 900-1263 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation with us today.

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