Equitable parent refers to a spouse who is not the biological father or mother of a child born or conceived during the marriage is treated by the court as the father or mother in an action for custody or visitation, when:
- the spouse and the child mutually acknowledge a relationship as parent and child, or the other spouse has cooperated in the development of such a relationship over a period of time prior to the filing of the complaint for divorce
- the adult desires to have the rights afforded to a parent, and
- the adult is willing to take on the responsibility of paying child support.
This allows a parent who is not the biological parent of a child to be legally considered to be the parent of the child.
Equitable parent is also used to refer to a person, living with the child and one of his or her legal or natural parents, who forms a close bond with the child and assumes the duties and responsibilities of a parent. In short such a status is attained not by blood or adoption, but by virtue of the close parent-like relationship that exists between that person and a child. This status of equitable parent is a legal fiction that is used as an equitable remedy.