Hagerstown, MD asked in Child Custody for Maryland

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.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

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

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.