Child Custody For Grandparents: A Legal Guide

Posted on: 12 August 2015

As a grandparent, it's never easy to acknowledge that your grandchild may need to be in your custody. Doing so means that there is a very likely a major problem with the child's parenting situation. Your decision to seek custody of your grandchild can be a heartrending and difficult choice to make, but your love and concern for the child will, no doubt, be your first priority. When it comes time to seek custody of your grandchild, your best course of action is to be as informed and prepared as possible for the custody hearing. To learn more about the factors that influence a judge's decision in grandparent custody issues, read below:

Motivating Factors for Grandparents Seeking Custody.

Normally, your decision to seek custody is based on the following three parental situations:

  1. Parent is deceased.
  2. Parent is incarcerated.
  3. Parent is unfit.

When the parent is deceased or incarcerated the judge will often quickly rule in your favor for custody, unless another party is also seeking custody. Proving a parent is unfit, however, is a more difficult and potentially contentious situation, and you should be prepared to show proof that you are a better custodian for the child.

The Child's Best Interests.

All family law courts place the best interest of the child at the forefront of any matter pertaining to children, whether it be custody, support, visitation, or adoption. In many instances this edict gives a priority to giving custody to the child's biological parent, unless there are mitigating factors. Given this, you should not be discouraged from seeking custody if you can prove that you are in a better position to take care of your grandchild.

The judge will use several factors to determine your fitness as a custodian, including the following:

  • What type of environment can you offer the child? The courts look for a loving, nurturing environment that is clean, safe and healthy for the child.
  • What is your current relationship with the child? How much time have you already spent with the child?
  • Are you in good health? Are you mentally prepared to take care of a child?
  • Do you have the skills to deal with a child who has been removed from their parent's care? Dealing with a child's emotional needs will require a patient and positive attitude.
  • What does the child want? Depending on the child's age, the judge may consider the child's wishes. In some cases, especially if the custody is contested, the judge may order an evaluation of the child by a child psychologist.

Knowing that you are doing the right thing for your grandchild doesn't reduce the stress and emotional impact of seeking custody. Count on an experienced family law attorney to help you through this process so that your grandchild can be taken care of, loved and protected.

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