How Do I Get Custody of My Niece or Nephew
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How Do I Get Custody of My Niece or Nephew?

Generally, child custody is the legal and physical obligation of taking care of a child’s requirements. This is going to include providing a place to live, healthcare, schooling and other necessary facets of life that serve the best interest of the child. Subject to which state you live in, there are various procedures to petition the court to acquire custody of a niece or nephew. Nevertheless, typically there aren’t any legal rights for custody for uncles and aunts. Parents are considered to be the legal guardians of the child for making decisions in their child’s best interests.

There might be a couple of exceptions when there is neglect, abuse, or endangerment to the child when living with their parents. In those instances, the court might open a case for guardianship and look to the best interest of the child when determining the custody case.

A showing to the judge that living with their aunt or uncle is in the child’s best interest is vital. There needs to be an establishment that the child’s safety and health is at risk. Consequently, an intervention to safeguard the child’s emotional development and/or physical health is required. For instance, When the mother or father were recently convicted of a crime and it could be harmful for the child to continue to live with them.

Additionally, when there is any type of sexual or physical abuse by either of the parent’s to their child. Both can cause enduring emotional and/or mental anguish for the child. Consequently, the family court would be required to determine the differing aspects and maintain the child’s safety over anything else.

What is “Child’s Best Interests Standard”, and How is it Applicable to 3rd Party Custody?

Subject to the state you live in, the rules for the child’s best interests standard might differ. In addition, it is important to make the distinction between the standard as it applies to 3rd party custody matters. Simply put, the child’s best interests standard is the stepping stones for the bulk of family law cases regarding decision-making about the child in court. There are a lot of factors a court decides within this standard to establish the child’s well-being.

Particularly, it takes into account the child’s wishes and desires when they are old enough to make this decision. It will also closely explore the relationship between the parent and their child. Additionally, it examines how the child is going to adapt to specific circumstances, cultures, general public, and schooling. Inconclusion, it considers the mental and physical well-being of the associated parties. The family courts usually try to balance these factors alongside the child’s desires to make custody determinations. Every state has their own set of regulations in establishing the child’s best interests standard. It is vital to recognize the ones detailed in your local state to guarantee you are fulfilling the requirements for child custody cases.

As previously mentioned, there is a variance between implementing this standard for the parents vs. 3rd parties for visitation. typically, for non-parents trying to acquire custodial rights, each state is going to allow for further clarification on the factors used to come to this determination. For custody, a 3rd party needs show 1 of the 5 circumstances:

  • The parent is unfit;
  • Voluntary withdrawal;
  • Abandonment;
  • Specific details and circumstances.

For visitation, the 3rd party needs to prove by clear and concise evidence that there would be genuine harm to the child when visitation is refused, which is going to usually need expert witness testimony. 3rd party custody cases are hard to win, but when you wish to pursue custody and visitation time being a family member of a child, you should have the possibility to do it.

Do Aunts and Uncles Have Visitation Rights with Their Nieces or Nephews?

It usually depends on the state in which you reside in, because there are various visitation rights laws for every state. For example, a lot of states are going to allow an aunt to apply for visitation rights, but only if the child’s parents are separated. When the child’s parents aren’t divorced or separated, and you try to pursue visitation rights, the court is going to typically side with their parents. Very limited states allow for extended family members to petition for visitation rights.

To be involved in the visitation case, you are going to need to petition the court. You are going to also be required to present the judge with details that highlights the essential role that you have taken in your niece’s and/or nephew’s life. When the evidence you offer is considered by the judge and courts to be convincing, it’s possible that you are going to receive a specific amount of visitation rights, like on weekends or a handful of times every month. The easiest way to identify if you have the option to request visitation rights is to speak with an attorney that is knowledgeable in child custody cases, they are able to help you in determining what your next steps should be.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Assistance with Niece or Nephew Adoption?

If you, being an aunt or uncle are contemplating acquiring legal guardianship over your nephew or niece through court. The initial step is filing a petition for guardianship with the proper court in the county where the child presently lives. It is going to be vital to get a hold of a local state custody lawyer to discover what your legal choices and legal rights are. Child custody cases are complicated and need a thorough assessment of the individual petitioning custody of the child when they are not a biological parent.


  1. LaMance, K. (2021, March 22). How to get custody of my niece or nephew? Retrieved May 11, 2021, from

Arizona Family Law

Naming guardians in your will can be part of your estate plan. You may think you’re too young or don’t have enough money to justify the expense, but if you have children, you have priceless assets. There are many considerations when naming guardians for your kids. However, the process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.

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