In a boost to the rights of parents, the courts are becoming less willing to hand over children to third parties seeking visitation or custody, ruling that they need more proof of bad parenting before granting access, according to family law attorneys.

Lawyers say that, in recent years, third parties — including step-parents and grandparents — have had a tougher time convincing courts that they should be allowed to raise or visit a child. In the past, they say, the standards for proving a parent unfit were lower, making it easier for third parties to win custody disputes.