In a conflict between a parent and a non-parent, the parent enjoys the paramount right to custody of a child and may be deprived of such right only for compelling reasons. The test to determine whether to deprive a legal parent of custody is a dual-pronged test: first, the trial court must determine that an award of custody to the parent would cause substantial harm to the child; if so, then the courts look at the best interest of the child factors to determine if an award of custody to the non-parent is required to serve the best interest of the child.
Sole custody had been awarded to the legal non-parent of a child. The child preferred to live with the non-parent, and testimony showed the relationship between the child and the non-parent was stronger than the relationship between the adoptive father and the child, the adoptive father's home was not welcoming or loving, the adoptive father isolated the child from social activities and forbade him from communicating with his extended family, and the child was no longer participating in sports, though he had previously been very active in sports.
In a conflict between a parent and a non-parent, does the parent enjoy a right to custody of a child?
No error was found by the court of appeals in the trial court's finding that substantial harm would result if sole custody were awarded to Fulton. The court further found no error in the trial judge's determination that it is in the child's best interest for sole custody be awarded to the parent and that the parent is able to provide a wholesome and stable environment for the child.