Family Law Article on Third Party Custody

This article addresses some recent Maryland Law updates that Clients going through custody issues or Clients needing a Custody Lawyer, may want to understand. It is important for those dealing with Family Law to know this latest information regarding ‘third party’ custody and visitation rights. On August 3, 2018, the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a very important opinion regarding “third party” custody and visitation rights. This law has implications for custody cases and is called Kpetigo v. Kpetigo.   In 2016, for the first time, the Maryland court recognized the concept of a “de facto parenthood.”  In Conover, the Court addressed the proper legal approach to address custody of a minor child in a “same sex” marriage when the child is the biological child of one parent but not the other.  The court said that if it is determined that the non-biological is a “de facto” parent according to several factors set forth in the case, the “de facto” parent has the same rights to seek custody as the biological parent.  In Kpetigo, the new case, the “de facto” parent analysis was extended to a step parent.   Formerly, if a step-parent or other third party wanted to seek custody or visitation rights he or she would be required to prove that the biological parent was unfit or that there existed “exceptional circumstances.”  No longer.  The Kpetigo decision states that now, in Maryland, any third party, not just a spouse in a same sex marriage, can secure custody or visitation rights of a non-biological child if they can prove that they are a “de facto” parent.  If the non-biological party can show that his or relationship has been encouraged and facilitated by a biological parent, and that 1) the non-biological party and the child lived together in the same household and 2) the non-biological party assumed obligations of parenthood by taking significant responsibility of the child’s care, education and development, including contributing towards the child’s support, without expectation of financial compensation and 3) the non-biological party has been in a parental role for the length of time sufficient to have established with the child a bonded, dependent relationship parental in nature.

This is a major change in Maryland law regarding third-party custody cases.   If you have any questions regarding Family Law, Divorce or any questions regarding custody, please feel free to call or email anytime for a free consultation. We offer affordable legal guidance and can assist with all Family Law legal needs.


David Ruben, David@RubenLaw.com

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