In Loco Parentis (Custody by Non-Parent)
In loco parentis is a Latin term that means "in the place of a parent." It refers to the legal doctrine that grants non-parents, such as grandparents, stepparents, and other relatives or caregivers, certain rights and responsibilities to care for a child as if they were the child's parent. This doctrine is often invoked in custody cases where a child's biological or legal parent is unable or unwilling to provide proper care for the child. At The Law Offices Of Laura Gillis, we have extensive experience handling in loco parentis cases and can help you understand your rights and options.
When Can In Loco Parentis Be Established?
In order to establish in loco parentis, the non-parent seeking custody must show that they have been providing care and support for the child in question for a significant period of time. This can include providing financial support, housing, food, and other necessities, as well as providing emotional support and guidance to the child. The length of time required to establish in loco parentis varies depending on the circumstances of each case, but generally, the non-parent must have been providing care for a significant period of time, often measured in years.
Additionally, the non-parent must show that they have a close and meaningful relationship with the child and that granting them custody would be in the best interests of the child. This can be a complex legal argument that requires the expertise of an experienced family law attorney.
To determine a custody right for a non-parent, the Court must find that there has been a meaningful parental relationship formed for a substantial period of time in order for this type of order to be entered. A.R.S. 25-415 sets forth the factors by which the Court can determine whether this type of order is available. Specifically, in order to enter a custody or visitation order for a non-parent, the Court must determine:
1. The person filing the petition stands In Loco Parentis to the child.
2. It would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the custody of either of the child’s living legal parents who wish to retain or obtain custody.
3. A court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning the child’s custody within one year before the person filed a petition pursuant to this section unless there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
4. One of the following applies:
(a) One of the legal parents is deceased.
(b) The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed.
(c) There is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the legal parents at the time the petition is filed.
The standard of a Court in finding an order for custody under this statute is by clear and convincing evidence. As the Court takes very seriously the rights of biological parents, there must be a very serious showing that it is not in the best interest of the child(ren) to remain with the biological parent(s). Under A.R.S. 25-415, a non-parent may additionally apply for visitation rights to the child(ren) similar to that provided for in the grandparent rights statutes.
At The Law Offices Of Laura Gillis, we understand the complexities of in loco parenti can help you build a strong case for custody. We will work with you to gather evidence of your relationship with the child, including testimony from the child, teachers, friends, and family members, as well as financial and other documentation to support your claim.
What Are Your Rights as an In Loco Parentis?
If you are granted custody as an in loco parentis, you will have the same rights and responsibilities as a biological or legal parent. This includes the right to make decisions about the child's education, healthcare, and other important matters, as well as the responsibility to provide for the child's basic needs and ensure their well-being.
However, it is important to note that in loco parents, custody is not the same as adoption or legal guardianship. While you may have custody of the child, the biological or legal parent may still have some rights and responsibilities and may be able to challenge your custody arrangement in court.
At The Law Offices Of Laura Gillis, we can help you navigate the complex legal landscape of in loco parentis custody and ensure that your rights as a caregiver are protected.
What Are Your Options if You Are A Biological Or Legal Parent?
If you are a biological or legal parent and someone is seeking custody of your child as an in loco parentis, you have the right to challenge their claim and protect your parental rights. This can be a difficult and emotionally charged process, but it is important to protect your relationship with your child and ensure that they receive the care and support they need.
At The Law Offices Of Laura Gillis, we can help you understand your options and develop a legal strategy to protect your parental rights. This may include challenging the non-parent claim of in loco parentis or negotiating a custody arrangement that allows you to remain involved in your child's life while ensuring their well-being.
No matter what your situation, we are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal representation to help you achieve the best possible outcome for yourself and your child.
Contact The Law Office Of Laura Gillis
If you are involved in an in loco parentis custody case, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. At The Law Offices Of Laura Gillis, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you if you are looking for a consultation for In Loco Parenti's cases, contact The Law Office of Laura Gillis!