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Child custody when a parent passes away

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2021 | Child Custody, Family Law

When a custodial parent passes away, the parent who does not have custody of the child and other relatives will likely be concerned about who will receive custody. Loved ones who want to help should learn about the correct procedures to follow with the family court to officially obtain child custody. If you’re a California resident, here are some important things to know.

Custody when a parent dies

It is often difficult to determine who should win child custody case when a parent passes away. Possible candidates could be the non-custodial parent, the grandparents, extended relatives such as aunts and uncles of the child, or close family friends such as godparents.

In some cases, the state will assume custody of the child. This is often the least favorable option for many families and is seen as a last resort. When the state has custody of the child, the child will be placed in the foster system. Family members of the child are not able to choose the foster home where the child will be placed.

Establishing paternity

The non-custody parent may be awarded child custody if the child’s custodial parent passes away. The child’s biological father can initiate paternity test after the child’s custodial parent dies. There are state-specific processes for acknowledging the paternity of the child.

Third-party custody

California courts may also consider third-party child custody, such as granting custody to a family friend. This is often an option if no close relatives of the child request custody and there is a close or established relationship between the third party and the child.

No matter who is awarded custody, the courts want to ensure that the party has the best interest of the child in mind. Providing a safe and stable home for the child is the priority.