When handling a custody case, the courts always attempt to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child in question. The best option is usually for the child to live with both parents, since it is important for a child to have a sense of their identity and receive care from their biological parents. This is often not possible for divorcing parents, in which case a child can potentially live with one parent. If it is ruled that neither parent is suitable as the custodian of the child or if they pose a risk to the child, other options will need to be considered.
After the parents have been deemed "unfit" by the courts, the judge must carefully analyze the specific situation when deciding the course of action. After this has been done, the courts may decide to put the child in the custody of a third party. This might be a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle. Relatives will usually be the first option if there are family members that have volunteered themselves as potential custodians. However, if there are no options within the family, the child may be placed into care.
The courts will also look for the option that can provide the most certainty and consistency for the child. They know that it is not in the best interests of the child to be moving from home to home, so they seek the most permanent option.
If you are looking into the possibility of gaining custody of your grandchild, niece or nephew, you should think about the case you could present in order to prove that your care would be the best option for the child.
Source: American Bar, "When Should Third Parties Get Custody or Visitation?," accessed Nov. 17, 2017