Custody Type Guide For Grandparents

Taking over the upbringing of your grandchildren is a situation that many grandparents find themselves in. This could be as a simple short term solution, such as while a single parent finishes their own schooling, or a longterm or lifelong situation. While formal custody arrangements are often made, sometimes grandparents take over informally when the birth parents simply walk away from their responsibilities. This can lead to several challenges, which this guide can help you overcome.

The problem with casual custody

It may seem easier to simply skip the route of a court appearance and formal custody arrangements, but this can lead to several major issues. These include the following:

  • Grandparents may not have the ability to enroll a child in school or meet with teachers.

  • Insurance and financial assistance can't be granted without formal custody.

  • Medical treatment decisions are solely with the custodial guardian, as legally defined.

All of these affect your ability to provide for the well being of your grandchild, especially if the birth parents will not sign appropriate paperwork or put you down as a contact. By suing for custody, you can avoid all of these issues.

Understanding the Options

Many grandparents balk at suing for custody for fear that they will not win it or they will further estrange the birth parents. Or, the situation may not warrant it if the situation is known to be temporary. In this case, there are other options.

The birth parent can grant a power of attorney to you to give you the temporary authority to make decisions on the child's well-being on the parent's behalf. This is particularly useful if the parent will be away for a short period, such as due to enlistment, school, or a hospital stay.

There may also be consent laws in your state, which means the parents can give consent to a school or within the medical records for the grandparents to make decisions on their behalf.

When You Must Sue for Custody

Of course, there are situations where parents won't willingly give consent or where full custody is desirable, either temporarily or permanently. In this case, you will need to take the case to court and lay it out for a judge why the parent is unfit and your home is a better place for the child.

You may be granted full or part time custody, depending on the court's ruling. In some cases, the court may grant you kinship foster rights. This is a temporary arrangement where you are considered the foster parent of the child. The parent typically has visitation rights. Kinship fostering is often used when a parent is undergoing treatment, often for drugs, and is expected to recover and take over their parental rights in the future.

For more help with any of your custody issues, contact a family law attorney, such as one from a place like The Law Office of Colon & Associates PLLC, in your area.