Third-party custody is often defined as custody of a child involving a nonparent. Each state considers a number of factors prior to awarding child custody to a third party. Usually, third-party custody occurs when the biological parents do not want custody of the child or children or the biological parents are incapable of caring for the child or children. Many states require a third party to have standing to petition for custody of a child. This means that the courts require a nonparent to have an established relationship with a child prior to petitioning for custody. Generally, to have standing as a third party, one must demonstrate a special relationship to the child and then safeguards are implemented so that a biological parent has preference. This can be seen when you compare the legal requirements (generally) with custody cases from those of third party custody cases. Generally, a custody case is determined by the best interest of the child standard. In a third party case, not only is the best interests of the child considered but a heightened level of scrutiny generally occurs. Things like showing that the biological parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child is an extra safeguard put in place to protect the rights of a biological parent.