Who can request custody of a minor child?

Those with the following relationships to a minor child can start a court case to obtain legal custody of the child:

1. A legal parent of the child

legal parent of a minor child always has the right to request custody of their child. If two unmarried legal parents desire custody of a minor child, they must have a judge hear their case in court and orderparenting plan (custody order).

2. A grandparent of the child

The grandparent of a minor child can only request custody of their minor grandchild if both of the child's legal parents are deceased.

 

If only one of the child's legal parents are deceased, their grandparent can request custody if ONE (1) or more of the following conditions are met: 

  • The surviving parent has been missing for over a month;

  • The surviving parent is in a state or federal prison; or

  • The surviving parent has been convicted of a felony

3. A step-parent of the child

The step-parent of a minor child can only request custody of their step-child if it can be shown to a judge in court that it is in the child's best interests to live with their step-parent and ALL of the following conditions are met:

  • The child's custodial parent is unable to be the child's primary caretaker;

  • The step-parent already helped raise and take care of the child; and

  • The child wants to live with their step-parent

4. A step-parent of the child's deceased parent

The step-parent of a deceased legal parent of a minor child can only request custody of their step-grandchild if ONE (1) or more of the following conditions are met:

  • The surviving parent has been missing for over a month;

  • The surviving parent is in a state or federal prison; or

  • The surviving parent has been convicted of a felony

5. Someone other than a parent...

The only situation in which someone other a child's parent can request custody of a minor child is if the child is currently NOT in the physical custody of their legal parents.