Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In Loco v. Natural Parent

The Mississippi Court of Appeals decided Welton v. Westmoreland yesterday located here.  This case added to the confusion of the natural parent presumption vs. an in loco parentis parent.  In this case, without finding the natural mother unfit, the Court of Appeals affirmed awarding custody to the step-parent who had raised the minor child as his own.  This appears to conflict with In re Waites, 152 So. 3d 306 (Miss. 2014) as the dissent noted.  I would expect this case to go up on cert.   The best distinction I can figure out reading Waites and Welton together is this:  (1) If both natural parents in the picture - must prove unfitness or other conduct warranting third party custody, (2) If one natural parent in the picture only and other parent is in loco parentis, equal footing potentially depending on the facts. This is a very confusing area where I have a brief of my own due soon.    

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