Who can seek custody?
Most commonly, custody will be given to one parent (sole custody) or both parents (joint custody). However, it is possible for a non-parent to appear before the court to try and prove that both parents are unfit in order for the non-parent to get custody of a child. Grandparents, adult relatives, and any person a child has been living with in a caring and wholesome environment are among the people who can ask that parents be declared unfit so that custody could be granted to the non-parent petitioner. However, this does not mean that a non-parent can get custody just by coming to court and saying, "We can take better care of the child than either parent." A parent must be declared “unfit.”*
We recommend that you talk to an attorney when you are involved in a divorce or any custody dispute, especially if anyone (a parent or non-parent) is trying to get custody. Go to our OK Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
Note: In any situation where the court has to decide custody or visitation of a child, the court may decide to appoint an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, to represent the best interests of the child.**
* See, for example, Weber v. Linch, 579 P.2d 213 (Okl.App.,1978)
** 43 O.S. § 107.3(A)