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Can a non-biological parent win custody?

| Mar 17, 2021 | Child Custody |

Today, it’s common for a divorce to involve a stepparent. When one does, child custody may become an important question. Ohio law allows non-biological parents to seek custody in certain circumstances.

Can a non-biological parent win custody?

Yes, a non-biological parent can win child custody in an Ohio divorce. However, to have full standing to claim custody, the stepparent must have adopted the child. Legal standing to claim custody occurs when the parent has formally adopted the child. Typically, a biological parent must be found unfit or relinquish their parental rights in order for a stepparent to formalize an adoption.

If a non-biological parent has legally adopted the child, they have full standing to seek child custody. The court undertakes an analysis of the circumstances surrounding the child in order to determine whether the parent should receive custody. While each parent’s relationship with their child is important, biological relationship alone is insufficient for one parent to have a preference. The court takes many factors into account when they determine the best interests of the child.

Seeking visitation in child custody

A stepparent may rely on Ohio law in order to seek time with a stepchild after a divorce. The statute provides for companionship or visitation rights in limited circumstances. In addition to stepparents, grandparents may rely on the law in order to seek reasonable access to a child in some situations. A person seeking visitation rights under the law must be prepared to present evidence that allows the court to take the relevant factors into account to arrive at an informed decision.

Legal rights for non-biological parents and custody

Whether a non-biological parent may win custody in Ohio depends on the parent’s legal status. A non-biological parent may have equal legal standing with a biological parent, or they may claim companionship visitation rights under Ohio law.