The State presumes that decisions made by a parent is in a child’s best interest. But the State will admit this is not always true and, therefore, it does allow for the presumption to be overcome and will grant custodial or visitation rights to someone other than a parent. However, to get this custody a high standard must be met.
The grandparent, or other third party, has to show:
- They have intentionally assumed the role of parent;
- They have an emotional bond with the child that is similar to a parental bond;
- They have contributed emotionally or financially to the child;
- It is not a surrogate care arrangement;
- Continuing the relationship is in the child’s best interest;
- Loss of that relationship would be detrimental to the child; and
- The parent is absent, abusive, or neglectful.
These standard usually require that the grandparents have already had the grandchild in their care for a significant period of time. Although, this can be either on an informal basis or through more formal legal proceedings including, guardianships or emergency proceedings. Third-party custody proceedings can still leave visitation rights and support obligations for the parents. But most of the care, control, decision-making, and paying of expenses for the child are done by the third party who has custody.