Q: How can I obtain custody of kids that’s 3rd party that’s been with me for going on 5 years?
The kids was placed in my home in 2016 cause the mother didn’t have electricity or running water and she was suppose to come back for them the next day and they have been here every since.
A: Yours is not a simple legal issue, because you are not a natural legal guardian of the children. However, Maryland recognizes "de facto" parents, which means, the persons whom the children have grown accustomed to acting as their parents when their biological parents have been absent for an extended period of time. In these circumstances, courts will grant custody to the non-biological de facto parent(s) so as not to disrupt the lives of the children, where their best interests are concerned. However, there is a very strong presumption and preference in the law in favor of biological parents having custody of their children, so if a biological parent should appear in the future, they will be given at least immediate visitation and access, and eventually custody in the absence of clear evidence of unfitness (e.g., they would be a danger to the health and safety of the children due to substance abuse, mental illness, etc.). In order to obtain a court order granting you custody, you will need the consent of the parents, or at least serve the parents with your petition so they have the opportunity to object if they choose. If you can obtain the consent of the parents, then the proceeding will be much smoother. Legal custody will be necessary to procure medical care for the children, enroll them in school, etc., so it is in the children's best interests that somebody appropriate have this legal authority. It sounds as though you have become the de facto parent to these children, so you should pursue this if you are also prepared to take on the legal responsibilities for these children that legal custody imposes.
Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste agrees with this answer
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