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The Maryland child custody lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson and Herriott have handled dozens of third party custody cases.  


Third-Party Custody is a unique area of family law.  In Maryland, grandparents and other third-parties, such as aunts, uncles and cousins, do not have a "favored" status when involved in child custody disputes with biological parents.  A third-party petitioning for child custody needs to first demonstrate that the child's parent or parents are unfit, or that exceptional circumstances exist. The Maryland child custody lawyers at RGPH have experience identifying and procuring the evidence necessary to support a third-party child custody case.


Maryland Courts are required to consider several factors in determining parental unfitness or the existence of exceptional circumstances, including the length of time the child has been separated from the biological parent, the age of the child when the third-party assumed care of the child, the potential emotional effect on the child of a change in custody, the length of time which elapsed before the biological parent sought to reclaim custody of the child, the intensity and genuineness of the biological parent's desire to have custody of the child, the stability and certainty as to the child's future in the custody of the biological parent and any existing custody order or determination for any other child of the biological parent. Once a determination of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances is made, the Court must then make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child. The Court must consider the "best interest" factors.


In one proceeding, the aunt and uncle of two children, with the assistance of lawyer Randall Herriott were awarded legal and physical custody of their niece and nephew. The Court was persuaded that the aunt and uncle should receive custody of the children because of their close relationship with the children, desire to have the children in their care and the stability and certainty of the children's future in their custody. The biological mother opposed the aunt's and uncle's petition for custody. The Court found that the biological mother's mental health issues made her unfit to retain custody of her children.


In another action, the cousin of a child, with the assistance of lawyer Randall Herriott, was awarded legal and physical custody of her cousin. The Court was persuaded that the cousin should receive custody of the child because of her close relationship with the child, the length of time that he was in her care and custody, the young age of the child when she assumed his care and custody, the significant bond between them, the potential negative emotional impact the child would experience if separated from her, the significant period of time which elapsed before the biological father sought to reclaim custody of the child, the intensity and genuineness of the cousin's desire to have the child and the stability and certainty as to the child's future in the custody of his cousin.


The non-biological friends of a child, with the assistance of lawyer Randall Herriott, were awarded legal and physical custody of the child (and eventually adopted the child). The Court was persuaded that these third-party petitioners for custody should receive custody of the child because of their close relationship with the child, the age of the child when they assumed the care and custody of her, the potential negative emotional impact the child would experience if separated from them, the significant period of time which elapsed before the biological father sought to reclaim custody of the child, the intensity and genuineness of their desire to have the child and the stability and certainty as to the child's future in the custody of these third parties.


Lawyer, Randall Herriott, has obtained numerous favorable rulings in child custody cases, regardless of the genetic or familial relationship between the child and the parties seeking custody of the child. Randall Herriott's significant experience in this difficult area of Maryland family law is invaluable to those considering a third-party custody action. 


Please call the Maryland child custody lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson & Herriott, LLC at 301-383-1525 to schedule a consultation at the Prince George's County offices in Bowie, Maryland.  RGPH's lawyers handle child custody matters in Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Calvert, Charles  and St. Mary's Counties.

Third Party Custody Lawyer

Third Party Custody