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I am writing for my coworker. His girlfriend of many years recently passed away. They lived together and shared a 2 year old son. The maternal grandparents who never had anything to do with the child have come in, taken her body back to another state for burial and now come back and are starting to try to get the child from my coworker. He is distraught. He came in to collect his bereavement benefits and poured all of this out to me. What rights does he have? What does he need to do? I know that illegitimate children are in the custody of the mother until the Father goes before the court to have her declared unfit, but in a case like this, she was a very fit Mother from my understanding, she just had a condition that resulted in her death. Does he petition the court for full custody to establish his rights, or does he just leave well enough alone and the child by default is his? I think that by default when the mother dies, the child becomes a ward of the state, but don't want him doing unnecessary paperwork, and don't want him to miss out either on the chance to have his rights established to prevent the grandparents from taking the child. Any advice you have is wonderful. This is an Arkansas couple with a child born in Arkansas. 

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