About Me

Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Hello, I'm Karla Mitchell. Going through a legal case can be very expensive and challenging. I won't go into details, but I recently underwent my own legal battle that lasted several years. It is finally over and I successfully received a settlement, but I had to spend so much time studying law in order to play my role in my own court case. While I found a great attorney at one point, I felt completely lost initially and I don't want anyone else to experience the same thing. So I decided to create this blog for those who would like to know more about law.


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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Are You Seeking Custody Of Your Grandchild?

by Andrew Martin

If you have been providing care for your grandchild, then you may have considered the option of taking legal custody of that child. Holding legal custody would give you the right to make decisions for that child, such as where they go to school and how they are raised. Obtaining custody as a grandparent is often harder than you would think, however. Even if you have been the one to provide care for the child so far in their life, the court may be reluctant to take custody away from the child's birth parents. Here is a closer look at some situations in which you may be able to get custody and alternatives that may actually work better for the situation.

When may grandparents be given custody?

The easiest situation in which you can get custody as a grandparent is if both of the child's birth parents agree that this is the right choice. The process then is pretty simple; the parents basically give the child up for adoption with you as the adopter. Note that it is rare for both parents to agree to this. Even if they seem willing when you discuss the option with them, many change their mind while awaiting the court proceedings. 

Another situation in which obtaining custody may be feasible is if you can show that neither parent is a suitable guardian for the child. You would have to demonstrate that both are abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unfit. Evidence will be required, and your personal testimony won't usually be enough. A record of arrests due to abuse, medical reports, police reports, and the like will be required for a strong case.

What are your other options?

If the birth parents do not both agree to give you custody, or if you cannot adequately demonstrate that they are both unfit parents, you still have options.

Help One Parent Get Full Custody

You could choose to focus on helping the more suitable parent gain full custody of the child. This is often in the child's best interests. Once custody is obtained, you can offer to babysit and otherwise help with childcare, therefore having a positive influence on your child's life. This is often the outcome when grandparents attempt to gain custody and only succeed in demonstrating that one parent, not both, is unfit to parent.

Seek Visitation Rights

In some cases, the court may be unwilling to take custody away from either parent. In this case, you can seek visitation rights with your grandchild. You'll have the best luck getting formal visitation rights if you have been highly involved in the care of the child up until this point — for example, if you have babysat them regularly over the past few months or kept them overnight for long periods. 

Visitation orders can vary based on the situation and the judge who hears your case. You may be permitted to keep the child every other weekend, for example. Or the court may order that you can see them for a few hours several nights per week. 

The court often prefers to grant visitation rather than revoking custody from the parents. This is because visitation tends to help you maintain a relationship with the child's birth parents, which may be healthier for the child in the long term. Over time, you can all grow as a family as you work together to parent the child rather than building walls.

If you are a grandparent who would like to know more about obtaining custody of your grandchild, reach out to a child custody attorney at a firm such as New Direction Family Law in your area. Laws and procedures vary by state, so a local attorney is your best source of information.