When can a non-parent be ordered to pay child support? When can a non-parent be awarded custody?
When a person is acting "in loco parentis", the Court may order that person, who is not a biological parent, to pay child support. Also, a non-parent may be awarded custody of a child in circumstances when the biological parent has abandoned, deserted, is unfit, or is a danger to the child.
What is "in loco parentis"?*In loco parentis* is a Latin term which means *in the place of a parent*.
The person who is acting *in loco parentis* is a person who has assumed the status and obligations of a parent without a formal adoption. The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that any person who takes a child of another into their home and treats that child as a member of their family, providing parental supervision, support and education for the child, as if the child were their own is said to stand *in loco parentis*. Generally, a person will not stand in the position of "in loco parentis" without there being a substantial length of time in which the person has cared for the child, or when a man believes (or has been led to believe) for a long period of time that he is the father. However, this does NOT alone create a responsibility for a step-parent to pay child support without some SUBSTANTIAL justification found by the Court.
Can a person who is not a biological parent of a child get custody of a child?Yes. However, the law presumes that the natural parent is the more proper person for custody of the child than a non-parent. The presumption that a natural parent is the more proper person for custody can be defeated by evidence showing clearly and convincingly that (1) the parent has abandoned the child; (2) the parent has deserted the child; (3) the parent's conduct is so immoral as to be detrimental to the child; or (4) the parent is unfit, mentally or otherwise, to have custody.