Third-Party Child Custody in San Diego County, CA

Although tragic, some minors find themselves in positions where their parents are unable to perform the duties associated with raising a child. These children were often faced with the possibility of placement in a foster home or a group home. However, it doesn’t always have to be the case, thanks to third-party custody.

It is an arrangement that is commonly sought out when a child’s parents have died, lost custody, or wound up incarcerated. Sometimes, it is a result of physical or mental issues that may prevent a parent from taking care of their child.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to help such a child, California state laws recognize third-party custody. Therefore, you can step up and fulfill the parental obligations of the affected child. Read on to better understand how third-party custody works in San Diego.

Third-Party Custody – What is It?

Referred to as guardianship of a minor in San Diego, CA, third-party custody entails a person other than an adoptive or biological parent seeking custody of a child. Often, the individual is a relative such as an aunt, uncle, sibling, or grandparent. However, it can also be any other person who wants custody to be granted to a different person besides the child’s parents.

With these petitions, the third-party seeking custody has a heavier burden of proof. For starters, they must show that parental custody is not in the child’s best interest. It includes proving that the parents are out of the child’s life or incapable (emotionally or financially) of taking proper care of the child.

Who Can Seek Third-Party Custody in San Diego, California?

Third-party adoption laws are intentionally broad in California. This is because the quality of relationships between people doesn’t correlate directly with biological relationships. Best friends of incarcerated or deceased parents can be better parents than biological aunts or uncles.

The law, therefore, allows everyone (over the age of 18) who has the capability and desire to take care of the child the right to seek third-party custody. The judge has plenty of discretion when hearing the petition, thus allowing them to make a suitable decision.

The court will rule on the third-party custody petition based on the child’s best interest. For starters, the judge will want to see a pre-existing and positive relationship between the child and the person seeking custody. They also expect the individuals filing for third-party custody to have enough resources to provide basic needs to the child or children they want to adopt.

How to Seek Third-Party Custody in California

A San Diego County, CA family law attorney from can help you file for custody if your nieces, grandchildren, or nephews are not being cared for properly by their parents. However, you have to prove the following for your petition to be successful:

  • The parent (s) is unfit – for instance if they are abusing drugs and alcohol and leaving the kids unattended. Leaving such a child in the custody of the parents is dangerous for their well-being.
  • A fit parent with a negative impact on the development of the child – let’s say your brother is living with a wife that is physically or verbally abusive. Such an environment is toxic to the children within that home and you can seek third-party custody.

However, there is a lot of paperwork involved in a third-party custody case. These include a motion for temporary orders, summons, proposed parent visits, background checks, and the petition itself. Therefore, it is vital to contact to help you prove adequate cause and receive custody.

Third-Party Custody Court Hearing – What to Expect

As stated earlier, the person seeking child custody needs to show that the parent(s) can’t take proper care of the child. Therefore, the judge will ask several questions on a variety of topics. These include the following:

  • Why is the parent incapable of providing care to the child?
  • What benefits will the child get from the third party that they do not receive from the biological parents?
  • How does the third party relate to the child?
  • How will the financial needs of the child be met?
  • What kind of relationship does the third party have with the child’s parents?
  • Do the parents and the third party communicate?

Typically, the court views joint custody to be in the child’s best interest. However, it will grant guardianship if the child will be better cared for living with the third party. What matters most is the well-being of the child.

How to Choose a Suitable San Diego, CA Child Custody Attorney

Third-party custody cases are not easy to pursue. You need to provide solid evidence of the parents’ inability, ineptitude, or refusal to take care of the child. Therefore, it is vital to find a San Diego, CA child custody attorney that meets the following criteria:

  • Experience – ensure you find a law firm that specializes in child custody matters. They need to have been in business for at least ten years dealing with child custody cases.
  • Personalized services – feeling connected to the lawyers representing you is critical when it comes to child custody cases. It shows that they equally care for the well-being of the child.
  • Record – you want a firm that is winning similar cases representing you. It gives you the peace of mind you need to focus on what matters most – taking care of the child.
  • Referrals – a good child custody lawyer is often recommended by past clients. Ask friends and acquaintances who have required the services of a child custody lawyer in the past.

Let Our Child Custody Attorneys Help

At, we believe that taking care of a niece, nephew, grandchild, or sibling is a selfless and beautiful act. Our child custody lawyers in San Diego, CA will help you evaluate if third-party custody is right for the child, file a petition, and support your case in court.

Whether you are trying to get custody of the child, to be able to write a visitation agreement, a third-party child custody or Intrastate Custody Agreements, getting a lawyer can be in your favor. The lawyer will know exactly how to present your case in family court in the best possible light, thus increasing your chances for custody or visitation.

Contact our lawyers at to learn more about getting sole or joint custody of your child.

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