Can You Get Custody of a Sibling?

Updated January 24, 2024
8 min read
Can You Get Custody of a Sibling?

The intricate intricacies of child law showcase a compelling underlying principle: a child's best interest is paramount, overruling even parental preferences. Generally, parents — the legal guardians — can make critical decisions regarding the child, such as their place of residence, religion, education, and health.

Biological parents are naturally granted these rights, except when parental rights are legally terminated. However, what happens if both parents can no longer provide adequate care? Can a sibling be a legal guardian? The courts typically exercise caution in granting custody to non-biological parents.

How To Get Custody of Sibling

Becoming the legal guardian of a sibling is a significant undertaking that requires dedication, adequate resources, and a thorough understanding of the legal provisions. Securing custody of a sibling requires several steps, such as:

  • Demonstrating necessity and benefit: You must convince the court that becoming the child's guardian is warranted and beneficial for the sibling.

  • Proof of unfit or incapacitated parents: This can be based on various grounds, such as substance abuse, neglect, incarceration, illness, death, or other extreme circumstances that make the parent unable to cater to the child's needs adequately.

  • Parental consent: In some cases, parents might have to acknowledge their inability to officially meet the child's needs. This acknowledgment is crucial to persuading the court to transfer custodianship.

  • Understanding legal conditions: The law primarily aims to safeguard the child's best interests. Thus, you should understand the child custody laws in your state to determine your eligibility and the process of becoming a legal guardian.

  • Gathering relevant documents: Gather all necessary legal documents verifying the biological parent's inability to provide adequate care, your financial stability, your moral character, and all other relevant facts. Siblings can use the custody agreement to outline the terms of their guardianship and demonstrate their preparedness to take custody.

  • Legal petition: You will need to file a lawful request with the court that has jurisdiction. The petition should include all relevant facts and evidence supporting your case.

  • Legal representation: It might be advisable to engage the services of a family law attorney who can guide you through the process and represent your interests to the court.

The question of "Can a sibling be a legal guardian?" involves many factors that must be considered. This step comes with significant responsibilities and implications, so it is essential to be well-prepared and seek professional legal advice.

The Custody Process

Obtaining custody involves demonstrating to the court that granting you custody aligns with the sibling's best interest. The child's physical and mental welfare is of primary importance, and the court's assessment will include studying the stability of the home, the guardian's health condition, and any patterns of violence or substance abuse, among other relevant factors.

Petitioning for custody involves multiple legal requirements, including filing appropriate documents with the court within the child's jurisdiction. As such complex issues are sensitive, securing professional legal help is advisable to prevent missteps. Navigating through separate custody battles or existing court orders regarding custody can further complicate matters.

Age Requirement for Sibling's Guardianship

You must be an adult, typically over 18 years old, to be eligible for custody of a sibling. Still, the age of adulthood varies across states, so consulting local laws or a family law attorney is advisable.

Siblings can petition the court for custodial rights, but local laws dictate their eligibility and often require them to be above 18. But that's not all — the entire process depends on state laws and the sibling's living situation.

Additional Factors When Considering Sibling Guardianship

Other considerations include disability and asset ownership of the younger sibling, potential contesting from parents, and the requirement to notify other relatives. If the child's parents are alive and agree to transfer guardianship to an adult child, the court may grant custody to the older sibling.

However, in cases where one parent objects to the custody, the child's best interests remain the guiding principle.


While complex, attaining custody as a sibling is feasible when specific circumstances necessitate siblings to enter guardianship. You can get expert legal guidance through experienced lawyers and custody attorneys to help advocate for the child's best interest. Reach out today for assistance and make sure you have the best legal counsel in your corner.

Article by
Yevheniia Savchenko

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.

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