Who can file for custody?
Any person can petition the court for custody of a child, not just a parent. If there is no court order, the natural parents of the child are considered to have co-equal rights. Co-equal rights give both parents the same right to have physical or legal custody (which are explained above). Any person wishing to obtain physical or legal custody of a child must file a custody petition with the Territorial Court. This petition would be served on all persons who have an interest in the custody of the child, typically the parents, and/or other persons with whom the child lives.
Many parents separate and never formalize custody. Often parents or caregivers are able to agree to a custody arrangement without involving the courts. However if there is a problem with the arrangement and the parents or caregivers do not agree, a custody order may be necessary.