Sometimes grandparents end up providing more care for a child than that child's actual parents. When this occurs, those grandparents often want to seek legal custody of that grandchild. However, doing so is not as simple as you might think. Here are the basics that you need to know as a grandparent who wants custody of their grandchild.
1. The court prefers not to take custody away from birth parents.
In the eyes of the court, at least in the United States, the courts always seek to leave a child with their birth parents if there is any way of viably doing so. If one parent is unsuitable, then the other may be rewarded sole custody. Only when both parents are found to be unsuitable will custody be rewarded to someone else, such as the grandparents. It is rare for this to occur.
What you see as unsuitable parenting may not be the same as what the court sees as unsuitable. Multiple documented accounts of abuse or violence may prompt the court to take custody away from the parents. Things like having a messy kitchen and not laundering clothing as often as you think is suitable are not generally seen as neglect.
2. The parent could revoke their right to custody.
If the child's parents are both willing to revoke custody, that's a different story. You could essentially all sign a document akin to adoption papers, taking custody away from the birth parents and transferring it to you. The problem that often arises with this approach is that one parent is not willing to give up custody. Thus, this is a rare path for grandparents to take.
3. You may have grandparents visitation rights or guardianship.
Even though gaining true custody can be difficult or impossible, there is another route you can go down in order to be granted some official rights to the child. In most states, the court will reward what is known as "grandparent visitation." This would mean there is an official court document stating that you get to see the child for a certain amount of time on a certain schedule.
You could also petition for guardianship. This is essentially a financial position that would give you a say in how any money the child inherits is spent, how their healthcare is dealt with, and where they go to school. Guardianship is easier to obtain than custody in most cases.
As you can see, petitioning the court for custody of your grandchild is very difficult, and it is not something you should do on your own. Work with a child custody attorney to ensure you take the appropriate path and stand the best chance of being granted what you're seeking.Share
19 November 2019
When my husband filed for divorce a few years ago, I knew that I didn't want to endure a legal battle on my own. I interviewed several different attorneys until I found one that I really liked, and then I really gave my case my all. I had long talks with my lawyer about everything from financial problems to the way that we organized our schedule, and she was able to create a rock-solid case from my statements. This website is all about the importance of communicating effectively with your attorney by making the right decisions. Check out these posts about lawyers so that you are better prepared for your next case.