Non-parent custody issues often arise where a parent has proven unfit to care for a child, and a non-parent must step in to provide care for the child.
To gain legal custody rights, a non-parent must show that the parent is unfit, which is often difficult to do. The non-parent must prove one of the following: that the parent is unsuitable and harmful to the child; has signed an agreement to surrender custody; OR that the parent is otherwise unqualified to claim custody.
Defacto custodian status gives a non-parent the same rights to a child as a parent, which is very strong. However, it can be difficult to qualify for defacto custodian status. Qualifying for defacto custodian status requires the non-parent meet several requirements.
If the child is under the age of three, then the child must live with the non-parent for six months or more.OR if the child is over the age of three, then the child must live with the non-parent for a year or more.
The non-parent must have actual possession of the child and must stand in the place of a parent, providing financial support and care for the child.
Once a non-parent can establish this, they can be awarded defacto custodian status and enjoy the same standing in custody matters as a biological parent.