What is Third Party Child Custody?

  •   |   Meghan Freed

There is a lot of legal terminology used in divorce and family law, but many of the “must know” legal terms fall into the child custody and visitation category. It’s no wonder people ask our divorce attorneys: “What is third party custody?”

Read on to learn more.

Third Party Custody

In Connecticut, there is an alternative to sole custody and joint custody called third party custody. Third-party custody is when the court awards custody to someone other than a parent. When it comes to a custody dispute between a parent and a non-parent, there’s a presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to be in that parent’s custody. The non-parent may rebut the presumption in favor of the parent by showing that it would be detrimental to the child.

When Do Third Parties Have Custody or Visitation Rights?

Connecticut courts will grant visitation with a child when the person seeking visitation with the child proves “by clear and convincing evidence” that:

  •  a “parent-like relationship” exists, and
  • not granting visitation would cause “real and significant harm” to the child.

What is a Parent-Like Relationship?

The Connecticut Statutes contain a list of factors the court may (not must) consider when determining whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between the grandparent (or other non-parent) and the child:

  • The existence and length of a relationship between the person and the minor child
  • The length of time that the relationship between the person and the minor child has been disrupted
  • The specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation toward the minor child
  • Any evidence that the person seeking visitation has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent
  • The significant absence of a parent from the life of a minor child
  • The death of one of the minor child’s parents
  • The physical separation of the parents of the minor child
  • The fitness of the person seeking visitation
  • The fitness of the custodial parents
  • Other factors the court find appropriate

How Do You Modify or Change Custody

When the court finalized your divorce, it issued a divorce decree. That divorce decree is a final, enforceable court order. But sometimes, some of that order doesn’t work for you and your family and there are Post Judgment issues with the parenting plan.

A Motion to Modify can be used to adjust the terms of a parenting plan or custody agreement so that they more accurately reflect your child’s needs as they grow. As always, any modifications to a parenting plan must be in the child’s best interests.

Next Steps

For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts. If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or Post Judgment issue, please contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC