Speak Up! - View Question #161
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Question: Can a minor get custody of a child that he fathered?
Answer: This answer applies Arizona law, but is likely true in most if not all other jurisdictions.
No. A minor cannot get custody of a child while he is still a minor. Only an adult can be granted custody of a minor child. However, when the minor becomes an adult, at age 18, he can then ask for custody.
A parent has priority over any others for custody. However, the court will look at what is in the best interests of the child. If the 18 year old has no job and no way to support himself, and provide for his own needs, there is no way that he will be able to provide for the needs of his child, and he will not be granted custody. If he has a job, and a place to live that is appropriate for the child, he might very will be given custody. The only person who has equal priority with him to have custody is the mother.
If he is granted custody, the persons who cared for the child while he was a minor will most likely be granted visitation with the child. He will have to cooperate with this visitation.
Again, the determination will be WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, and this depends upon the facts and circumstances at the time custody is asked for. To put it another way: 'It depends.'