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Child Custody Issues Involving Nonparents

While most child custody cases arise in a divorce between parents, many other cases involve a nonparent’s right to custody over a minor child. Nonparental custody can occur where the parents are unfit to have custody or when a third party has had custody for a long time. This article explains the legal issues that are associated with nonparental custody rights in Mississippi.

Who Are Nonparents?

A nonparent is a third party who isn’t a biological or natural parent of the child in question. However, the law presumes that the child’s natural parents should have custody over their own children. A parent has a constitutional right to raise their children. Courts will not interfere with a parent’s constitutional rights absent extraordinary circumstances. Thus, a nonparent may have permanent custody over a minor child if the child’s parents passed away, or if their living parents no longer have the right to have permanent custody. The following third parties are typical examples of nonparents who seek child custody:
  • Grandparents
  • Stepparents
  • Adoptive parents
  • Aunts and uncles

Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights

Nonparents must demonstrate with clear and convincing evidence that the child’s parents are unfit to care for their child. Section 93-15-121 of the Mississippi code lists the following as grounds for terminating parental rights:
  • Mental disorder rendering the parent unable or unwilling to provide the child with an adequate home;
  • Disabling physical condition that prevents the parent from caring for the child;
  • Habitual drug abuse and addiction;
  • Unwillingness to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care;
  • Failure to visit or communicate with the child;
  • Abusive or neglectful behavior that causes the child to have extreme antipathy toward the parent;
  • Conviction of sex crimes, physical abuse, exploitation, or human trafficking.

Contact a Dedicated Family Law Attorney in Jackson

If you are involved in a contest regarding custody over a minor child – whether you are a parent or nonparent – you should consult the services of an aggressive family law attorney in Jackson with experience in child custody cases. At the Shows Law Firm PLLC, we committed years of our practice representing the rights of families in Jackson. You can count on us to zealously advocate for you and your family’s best interests in court proceedings, negotiations, and mediations. Call the Shows Law Firm PLLC at (601) 664-0044 or schedule a free consultation online today.


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