RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The thought of having to leave your child with a third party caregiver for an extended period of time is not something anyone wants to consider; however, circumstances can arise in which the responsibility of a parent to act in the best interest of his or her child would require a temporary relinquishment of custody to a third party. If a parent is ill or otherwise incapacitated for a temporary period of time, he or she may need the help of a friend or family member in caring for his or her child. Before making the decision to entrust your child to a third party in a time of need, there are several steps you should take to ensure that your child will be returned to you when you get back on your feet.
The United States Constitution protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children; however, if a legal parent, whether biological or adoptive, acts in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her constitutionally-protected status, the parent may lose this protected status and may find him or herself in a custody dispute with a non-parent, like a third party caregiver. Whether a parent has acted in a manner inconsistent with his or her constitutionally- protected status must be made on a case-by-case basis. The parent's conduct and intent are relevant in making this determination.
In such cases, the court would consider the reason for the relinquishment of custody. Was the parent suffering from poor health? Was he or she required to serve in the military? Was he or she unemployed and trying to find work? First and foremost, the parent needs to inform the caregiver that the relinquishment of custody is temporary and that the parent fully intends to resume custody once he is back on his feet. Second, the parent needs to maintain consistent contact with the children. While in-person visits are preferable, if such visits are not possible, then daily telephone or other electronic contact with the children should be made. The parent should also continue to provide financial support for the children to the extent that he/she is able. One option is to set up a custodial bank account for the child with the parent and third party caregiver as custodians. In addition, the parent should ask the caregiver to keep him or her informed with respect to the child's daily activities including any medical or dental appointments, extracurricular activities, and school functions, and the parent should attend these activities as much as possible.
If you are considering allowing someone else to care for your child for an extended period of time, it is important to consult with a professional who is skilled in this area to help guide you through the process.
Jaime Humphries Davis is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and partner with the family law firm of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC. She can be reached at 919-832-8488, Jdavis@gwhlaw.com, or visit http://www.gailorwallis.com
Jamie Humphries Davis, Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC, 919-832-8488, Jdavis@gwhlaw.com
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SOURCE Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC