When a custodial parent dies in California or elsewhere in the country dies, there are a number of factors that determine what will happen to his or her child. The other parent may get custody, but if it is the father, and he was not married to the child's mother when he or she was born, paternity must have been established. If this has not happened, the biological father can initiate paternity testing after the death of the custodial parent.
Other potential candidates for custody of the child may include grandparents or other relatives. The state may step in if no one else does, which can result in the child being put into foster care. When this happens, relatives may be able to gain visitation rights.
Family friends might be another option if no family members are able to take the child. Generally, there needs to be an established relationship between the individual and the child, and it must be in the child's best interests. Ultimately, a court will make a decision about who is best suited to gain custody of the child.
Parents who are putting together parenting agreements cannot prepare for every possible circumstance, but they might want to consider planning for what would happen in case the custodial parent dies or becomes incapacitated in some way. A parenting plan may also cover a number of other issues including how holidays will be handled, who pays for extracurricular activities and when parents will introduce new significant others to their children. Oakland County child custody lawyers might be able to assist parents with creating effective parenting plans. These arrangements should be flexible enough to allow room for changes so parents do not have to go before a judge for minor adjustments. Major changes to custody and visitation may require a return to court.