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Kinship Navigator - Custody Granted in District Court

What is custody granted in district court?

It is sometimes necessary for a court to determine who shall have custody of the child when the state is not involved. This type of custody determination is not done in juvenile court but in the district court. One of the options for the court is to give custody of the child to a non-parent.

When is custody granted to a non-parent?

If the court determines that joint custody or sole custody to either parent will result in substantial harm to the child, the court can award custody to a non-parent who can provide a wholesome stable environment for the child. Custody to a non-parent can also be granted when the parent is deceased or cannot be found.

Who qualifies as a non-parent custodian?

Any person who can provide an adequate and stable environment can be named a non-parent custodian.

How is it done?

Obtaining custody as a non-parent is a complicated legal process. Paperwork must be filed with a district court. Unless you come to an agreement with the parents, a judge will decide whether or not to grant custody to you. You will have to clearly prove to the judge that giving custody to the parents will substantially harm the child and that you can provide an adequate and stable environment for the child. Always the judge must determine that the custody arrangement is in the child's best interest.

How long does custody to non-parent last?

Custody to a non-parent will last until there is a change in the court order or the child turns 18.

Can I get temporary custody from the district court?

Yes, temporary custody entails filling out paper work that requires very specific information. Those papers must be filed with the court and the parents must be served with those papers. Some of the district courts have forms on line for temporary custody or they are available from the clerk of court. Also, some of the district courts have self help desks which can assist you in the process.

Temporary custody is only good for a limited time period and may only be extended for an additional 15 days by the court. During that time period the court must conduct a full hearing, to determine if the custody should remain with you. The time period depends on the type of temporary custody you request. Be sure to ask the court about the timelines.

Do I need an attorney?

YES, obtaining custody as a non-parent is a very complicated legal process.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a non-parent custodian?

Your duties and responsibilities would be the same as if the child was your biological child.

Can I prevent the parent from visiting with the child?

The same court that decides to name you the Non-Parent Custodian will determine whether or not and how the parents can visit. You must follow what the court orders until it is changed by the court.

Do the parents still have the obligation to support?

The same court that decides to name you the non-parent custodian will determine how much the parents must pay in child support.

Can I apply for benefits for the child or have the benefits the child receives put in my name?


Is there any paperwork I have to provide the court?

There is a lot of paperwork that must be provided to the court in order to obtain Non­ Parent Custody. The attorney who represents you should file everything that is necessary with the court.

Are there any court costs that I will have to pay?

There are court costs which will vary from court to court.


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