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 unmarried parents are in a custody dispute, the options for the custody decision are essentially the same as for divorcing spouses. Child custody and visitation are typically resolved through an agreement between the parents or a family court judge’s ruling. However, unlike divorcing couples, unmarried parents do not need to deal with complex divorce-related issues like property division and 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 cases, individuals other than a child’s parents, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, or close family friends, may seek custody. This is often referred to as ‘non-parental’ or ‘3rd-party’ custody in some states, while others call it ‘guardianship’ of the child. Regardless of the terminology, many states have specific procedures for individuals pursuing non-parental custody.

The process usually begins with the individual seeking custody filing a ‘non-parental custody petition’ with the court. This document establishes the person’s relationship to the child, the parents’ status (living, deceased, or location unknown), and the reasons for seeking custody. It often involves serving a copy of the petition to the child’s parents if they are alive and their location is known.

In Washington state, non-parents must file a custody petition when the child is not in parental custody. If parents object, specific criteria must be met for success.

If parents object, the petitioner must prove one of the following for a successful outcome:

  • 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

Grandparents may seek visitation rights when access is obstructed by the child’s parent(s), such as after a divorce or separation.

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 Phoenix

Our Arizona child custody attorney prioritizes your case, actively considering your and your children’s best interests when providing 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.

Recent Posts



Finding the right mediator can be difficult.


Divorce and Family Law

When a case demands litigation, you’ll have the benefit of 19 years of litigation experience in California and Arizona. But when a case demands collaborative law, or mediation, we can meaningfully describe why collaborative law or mediation may or may not be your best option.

Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

Jennifer Moshier, Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer

Trail Potter  –  Divorce  Lawyer

Moshier Law - Phoenix Divorce, DCS and CPS, Custody, Estate Planning, Probate, and Adoption Lawyers