Third-Party Custody in Michigan: How it Works.

A young woman kissing a little girl, while a couple stand in the background, out of focus.
Third-party custody, where someone other than a parent has legal custody, can be complex.

The term “third-party custody” may sound a little strange, especially to a parent. However, all it means is that someone (usually a family member like a grandparent or an aunt or uncle) is stepping in to help care for the children. In some cases, it can also mean that the court has granted a non-parental family member the right to see a child. So why would that be necessary? Let’s take a look…

In cases where a parent isn’t available to provide care:

There are situations where a parent can’t care for their children. Maybe there’s an issue of substance abuse, or perhaps a parent is concerned about their child’s safety in their own home and needs help from their own parents. Sometimes it’s illness, disability, or even a missing person’s case that makes caring for a child impossible, and a grandparent or other family member steps in. Either way, when parents aren’t able to care for their children and a third party assumes the role of caregiver, the courts sometimes grant custody to that person so that the arrangement is formalized.

In cases where there’s an existing relationship at risk:

There have been situations where a child has a loving relationship with a particular family member (like a grandmother or grandfather), but after their parent’s divorce that relationship is hampered. An example of this would be if the parent who ends up with primary custody doesn’t want the child to see their grandparents on the other side of the family (the ex’s parents). However, if the child had an established relationship with those grandparents, the sudden loss of that relationship can be devastating. In that case, the grandparents can petition the court for partial custody, or visitation rights to maintain the relationship.

What are the requirements under Michigan law:

Under current Michigan law, grandparents are no longer just granted visitation by the court because it’s in the best interests of the child. Now, in order to get legal visitation rights as a grandparent, you have to meet certain criteria before you can even start petitioning the court for visitation rights. These criteria are:

  1. If the grandparent’s child (who is the child’s parent) is dead,
  2. The child’s parents have never been married, they aren’t living in the same household, and paternity has been established to the court’s satisfaction,
  3. Someone has custody of the child who isn’t a family member (like the child is in the foster system)
  4. The child lived with the grandparent for 6 months or more within the last year,
  5. The child’s parents are divorced, separated, or their marriage has been annulled

We can help you figure out third-party custody!

Third-party custody is a highly complex area of the law. Our aggressive and experienced family legal team has been fighting for family rights for decades and has been successful in arranging grandparent visitation with many courts in the state. When choosing an attorney to help you with third-party custody, you need to be sure they’re familiar with current law and are up-to-date on any legal findings that could impact your case. So call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 today and get help with all of your custody concern.