DE FACTO PARENT DEFINED; THIRD PARTY CHILD CUSTODY STATUTE

The third party custody statute in DC enables an initial filing or intervention by the third party in the ongoing proceeding under the following conditions:

THIRD PARTY CUSTODY

I. A parent who has provided primary care of the child for the past three years consents and supports the third party custody motion; or that:

II. The third party has:

  • Lived in the same household as the child for the past 4 out of the 6 months prior to the filing of the complaint;
  • If the child is under 6 months, then for the half of the child’s life; and
  • The third party must also have assumed parental role such as providing the basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, educational and financial support, etc.

III. Third party is currently residing with the child and providing care under exceptional circumstances which require grant of third party custody to prevent harm to the child.

Third party statute as listed above is applicable for individuals, relatives or grandparents who have demonstrated significant commitment to caring for the child have met the requisite elements.

DE FACTO PARENT

The third party custody statute grants expanded rights to a “de facto parent” in filing or intervening in an ongoing child custody action.

De facto parent is defined as a person who:

  • Resides in the same household as the child when the child was born, and
  • Assumes full parental responsibilities as the child’s parent, and
  • Holds himself/herself to be the child’s parent with the consent of one or both of the biological parents.

Or a person who: 

  • Has resided in the same household as the child for at minimum the last 10 of the 12 months preceding the filing of the custody complaint,
  • Has developed a strong emotional connection and bond with the child with the approval and encouragement of the birth parent, and
  • Has taken on full parental responsibilities as the natural parent providing basic necessities for the child,
  • Holds himself/herself to be the child’s parent with the consent of one or both of the biological parents.

If the individual proceeding under the de facto parent provision of the statute can establish the elements listed above in either portions by clear and convincing evidence; then, the individual would be treated under the statute as a parent and the elements applicable under the original custody statute for biological parents would also extend to the “de facto parent”.

That is the “de facto” parent may be able to proceed for permanent child custody as well as child support, alimony, etc.

De facto parent provision would be ideal for same sex couples where both the natural parent as well as the de facto parent have been significantly and meaningfully involved in the child’s life and have shared parental role.

Refer to our DC Family Lawyer/DC Child Custody Lawyer page for more information on this subject.

Categories: Family Law.