Sometimes someone other than the parents are given custody of a minor child. Circumstances giving rise to the need for this may include chemical dependency, mental health, the death of one or both parents, or other issues that make it hard or impossible for a parent to care for their child. Courts can award temporary or permanent custody to a relative or other third-party.

What is Third-Party Custody?

The establishment of the legal right to care for a child by a grandparent, family member, or someone other than the child’s parent is known as third-party custody. These custody rights allow the custodian to make important decisions for the child regarding education, medical care, and finances.

A third party custody action does not terminate the rights of the child’s parent. It may restrict the parent’s ability to care for the child without the permission of the third-party custodian, but this may be necessary if the parent is violent, has substance abuse issues, or cannot provide a safe environment for the child.

Is It Hard to Get Third-Party Custody?

These custody cases are governed by Minnesota law. The legal requirements for third-party custody actions are very specific and can be complicated. Decisions about who should have custody of a minor child are seldom easy, but determinations should always be based on the facts and circumstances governing what is in the best interest of the child.

If circumstances call for custody of a minor child to be given to a person other than the biological parents, someone who has already cared for the child may petition for custody. This person will usually have been the primary caretaker for the child and is referred to in law as the de facto custodian.

If you have been caring for a child and are not the biological parent, it is vital that you — while the child is still living with you — file a motion for custody. Without legal custody, you do not have any legal right to make decisions for the child. Until the court specifically orders it, you may not even be able to seek medical care for the child.

Custody is broken if the biological parents take the child before you file the motion, limiting the amount of consistent care you provided to the child.

What Is an Interested Third-Party?

You may have heard the term “interested third-party” used in connection with custody of a minor child and wondered to whom it refers. An interested third party can be a relative, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another family member. It can also be someone who can show that the parent demonstrated such disregard for the child as to endanger them by living with the parent.

Third-party custody is a decidedly technical area of law. Required pleadings must be skillfully prepared.

If you are caring for a child as either a de facto custodian or another interested third party and want to gain custody, or if you are the grandparent and seek legally enforceable visitation rights, contact the experienced family law attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm at (763) 406-7000 to schedule a free consultation today.