Proving ‘Actual’ Care, Control, and Possession
A suit affecting the parent-child relationship is a petition seeking help from the courts to determine each party’s rights and responsibilities to a child following divorce or separation. This can involve everything from deciding who will have custody of the child to visitation rights, medical support, and ironing out child support obligations.
Most of the time, a SAPCR is filed by the birth parents of the child. But there are a select number of other people or entities allowed to file, including but not limited to:
- Child-placing agency
- Man who alleges he is the birth father
- Someone with court-ordered visitation rights
- Governmental entity
- Person with actual care, control, and possession
The purpose of today’s blog is to explore the last one on that list. More specifically, what do the courts mean when they use the word “actual” in there?
Person with actual care, control, & possession
People who qualify under this category could be a grandmother or a stepfather. They may not be the child’s birth parent, foster parent, or guardian, yet they’ve developed and maintained a significant relationship with the child through care, control, and possession. Therefore, they are considered by the court to have a say-so in determining what is in the best interest of the child.
There are a few hoops to jump through, though. For starters, someone like a grandmother or stepfather must be able to prove all three factors (care, control, and possession) exists. Having one or two of the three will not satisfy the requirement.
Furthermore, there’s that little issue with the word “actual.” While courts are generally in agreement when it comes to the definition of actual possession (the child has lived and spent time with an individual for an extended period of time), there is debate over what constitutes actual care and actual control.
Generally, a person claiming actual care of a child would have their bases covered if:
- They’ve supported the child financially
- They were involved in child’s upbringing and provided daily care, including buying clothes, food, taking the child to school, seeking medical care when needed, etc.
- Proving that the birth parent gave up his or her parental duties
Generally, a person claiming actual control of a child would have their bases covered if:
- They prove they had general authority to direct the child (does not have to be exclusive)
- They prove they have the power to make legal decisions
Call Nelson Law Group Today!
Nelson Law Group, PC has represented people in all forms of family law cases for over 20 years. Our friendly staff is here to help you in any way we can. For more information about Brett A Nelson click here.