Opening Your Home To Your Grandchildren
The relationship between a grandchild and their grandparents can be loving and close, but things could end up being even closer when problems occur. The courts recognize the value of the grandparent-grandchild relationship like never before and every state has in place protections that guarantee the rights to visitation and custody for grandparents. Read on to learn more.
A Need Must Exist
Just because the grandparent has decided that a need exists to step in and seek custody does not automatically afford them rights. Family court judges are charged with ensuring that the health and well-being of the child must be at risk and that the new custodians are fit for the job. There are more unfortunate situations that call for a child to be removed from their biological parent than there is time to explore, but a few common ones are listed below.
All of the below assumes that either both parents are affected, or there is only one custodial parent available. The judge will always seek to place a child with a fit biological parent even if it means the child must move elsewhere; something that a grandparent seeking custody should consider.
1. A parent died, is incarcerated, or is confined to a mental health facility
2. A parent has been convicted of abuse, a drug offense, or other criminal activity
3. A parent is suffering from drug and/or other substance abuse
4. A parent is mentally unable to properly care for the child
In all cases, the reason must be more than a mere allegation. You must be prepared to show police reports and other hard evidence that the parent is unable to perform their duties.
The Custodian Must Be Fit
Once you know you can prove that the biological parent is unfit, you must also be ready prove that you are fit to parent a child. Being a grandparent is one thing, taking care of that child 24/7 is quite another. Being the grandparent does give you a few points in the eyes of the law, but you must also be ready to prove that you are ready and able to be the custodian of the child. If there are others who are also seeking custody, such as the other grandparents or an aunt or uncle, then you will need to prove that you are better suited to do the job. Some common issues the judge will look at include:
- Your age and health
- Your home
- Your physical and financial ability to provide food, recreation, education, and attend to any medical needs
- Your current relationship with the child
Your efforts to seek custody can be a stressful experience, and you should consult with a family law attorney like Marlene Dancer Adams at your earliest convenience.