Can Family Members Get Custody?

Can Family Members Get Custody?

It’s All in the Family

Custody disputes are often complicated with allegations of unfit parenting, abuse, neglect, or other serious charges. When these allegations turn out to be true, the judge may award custody to the non-offending parent or, in some cases, to a family member. This is certainly the exception and not the rule, but in cases where both parents are unfit for custody, family members can seek custody of the child in question.

In child welfare cases, the state may make efforts to identify appropriate relatives, such as grandparents or older siblings, to place the child with before resorting to foster placement. When a child is placed with a family member in this scenario, the family member does not automatically gain custody of the child. Rather, the family member serves as a kinship caregiver, which is a role similar to that of a foster parent. The kinship caregiver must take steps to become a licensed resource family (foster family), and the placement is always temporary. If the child cannot return to the parent safely, the kinship caregiver may be able to get physical custody of the child. The parent can still retain legal custody in this situation.

The child’s best interests are always the guiding factors in DCP&P cases. The child’s needs, the family member’s willingness and availability to become a custodial caregiver, and the status of the parental rights of the parents can influence the outcome of such a case. Custody is a big responsibility and an important right that doesn’t change hands easily. If neither parent is able to appropriately care for the child, however, a family member can step in, gain custody, and provide the child with a loving and stable home environment.

Speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you are seeking custody of a child relative. Placing a child with a family member is often preferred over foster placement. If you can provide a safe home for the child, an attorney can help you take the steps needed to seek custody. These types of cases can be complex, especially when the parents cannot agree or cooperate. An attorney with experience handling complex custody cases can help you take the steps needed to ensure the custody order is in the best interests of the child.

If you are a family member seeking custody, Williams Law Group, LLC can assist you. The skilled attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC will help you navigate the process of seeking custody as a family member. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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