When filing for custody of a child, it is usually assumed that you are the biological parent. However, there are many instances in Delaware and in the rest of the United States where a person other than a biological parent wants to be granted custody of the child.
This might be a grandparent, a step-parent, an aunt or an uncle. It might also be a person who is not related to the child, but someone who has acted as a caregiver for much of the child's life. If you are an aunt or uncle who wants to be granted custody of a niece or nephew, it is important to know that it is entirely possible to have your petition granted. You must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that gaining custody of the child will be in the child's best interests.
How do I start the process of getting custody of my niece or nephew?
The process that you will have to follow will depend on whether the child in question is currently in the care of a biological parent, or if he or she is in the care of a foster home. It will also depend on whether the biological parents are compliant in your petition for custody.
If the child is currently in the care of his or her biological parents, you must first be able to show that living with their biological parents is not in the child's best interests. If you believe that he or she is in danger in any way, it is vital that you contact social services immediately.
If you can show that there is abuse, consumption of excessive alcohol or drugs, or neglect taking place in the household, it is likely that authorities will conclude that the child is not safe there.
Child custody courts prefer to rule that children live under the custody of another relative with whom they have a positive relationship, rather than see them go to foster care. Therefore, if you can prove that you will provide a safe and loving environment for your niece or nephew in Delaware, it is a good idea to take action.