Custody and Visitation Without Divorce

Custody and Visitation Without Divorce

Whereas child custody and visitation matters come up most often as part of divorces, parents experiencing a divorce are not the only individuals that may be involved in a child custody case. Custody challenges can come up between unmarried parents; grandparents are able to seek to impose their rights of visitation with their grandchildren; and in rare situations family members or others having a close relationship with a child might seek to be granted custody.

The below is a post of the laws and procedures regarding child custody and visitation without divorce.

Custody Without Divorce

When a child’s parents are not married, the laws of many states necessitate that the mother be granted sole physical custody prior to the father taking action in response to be granted custody. An un-wed father usually is unable to gain custody over a mother that is a great parent, but he is able to take action to obtain some type of agreement for custody and/or visitation without divorce.

For unwed parents involved in a custody battle, alternatives for the custody decision are essentially the same for divorcing spouses — child custody and visitation are going to be settled either through agreement among the child’s parents, or by a family court judge’s ruling. However, unlike divorcing couples, unmarried parents are not going to need to resolve any potentially convoluted (and combative) divorce-associated issues like division of property and payment of spousal maintenance.

Consequently, the decision-making process is concentrated almost solely on child custody. Therefore, settlement of custody and visitation may be more streamlined for unwed parents. If unwed parents don’t come to a child custody and/or visitation agreement without going to court, the issue is going to go before a family court judge for settlement.

Specifically, when making child custody determinations involving unwed parents, the family court’s main consideration is going to be to identify the child’s “primary caretaker.”

Non-Parental Custody

In some situations, individuals other than a child’s parents might want to gain custody — including family members such grandparents, uncles, aunts, and close family friends. Some states designate such a case as “non-parental” or “3rd-party” custody, whereas others refer to the 3rd-party’s objective in these cases as acquiring “guardianship” of the child. Whatever the designation, many states have specific procedures that are required be followed by individuals pursuing non-parental custody.

The process typically starts when the individual pursuing custody files paperwork referred to as a “non-parental custody petition” with the court, in which establishes the individual’s relationship to the child, the child’s parents status (living, passed away, location unknown), and the reasons the person is pursuing (and should be awarded) custody. typically, a copy of this petition is required to also be delivered to the child’s parents, when they are alive, and their location is known.

For instance, non-parents pursuing custody of a child in Washington state are required to file a non-parent custody petition when the child is not in either parent’s physical custody or neither of them is a fit custodian. If the legal parents disapprove of your request, state law requires you to prove on of the below to be successful:

  • The parent(s) is/are unsuited; or
  • Placing a child with an otherwise fit parent would adversely impact the child’s growth and development.

Grandparents’ Rights to Visitation

As well as seeking custody of children in some circumstances, grandparents might also want to enforce their rights to visitation with their grandchildren, if those rights are being hindered by the child’s parent(s), for instance following a divorce or separation. In every state and Washington D.C. have some variance of a law safeguarding grandparents’ right to visitation with their grandchildren.

Establishing Custody and Visitation Without Divorce? Speak with an Attorney

Custody battles can be very emotional and procedurally complex. The aid from a qualified attorney can help guarantee that you acquire the custody and visitation terms you are pursuing. Locate a knowledgeable child custody attorney near you and find some peace of mind.


  1. Custody and visitation without divorce. Findlaw. (2018, November 21). Retrieved December 8, 2022, from

Speak With Our Child Custody Attorney In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorney in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.


Jennifer Moshier Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Scottsdale Arizona
Jennifer Moshier, Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer

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