The first time you suspect that your grandchild is not getting the proper care can be heartbreaking on many levels. There can be a wide variety of reasons for your son or daughter to be incapable of caring for your grandchild, but one thing may be very clear: you need to step in. The law recognizes the value of the grandparent in situations where the biological parent is unfit like never before, but you still must be able to show a need and that you are fit to parent. Read on to learn more about seeking custody of your grandchild.
You have rights
Most states now allow grandparents to be considered as custodial parent of a child. The biological parent must be ruled to be unfit by either a hearing or petitions and the exact process varies by state. If you are certain that your grandchild is in danger and you are willing to provide proof, speak to a family law attorney in your area and find out what the next steps will be.
A parent who is incarcerated presents one common reason to prompt custody hearings, but the judge will always seek to place the child with the other parent if possible. Unfortunately, it's become all-too-common for parents (both of them) to become addicted to various substances. Whether child protective services have removed the child from the parents or you have to take action yourself, you may be doing your grandchildren a great deal of good by taking over their care. Other common problems with parental fitness include:
- Being too ill to care for the child.
- Having a mental issue that affects parenting.
- Being physically unable to care for the child (such as with a permanent injury).
Proving your fitness
It can be devastating to appear in court and explain why your own off-spring lacks the ability to properly care for the child, but the judge won't remove a child from the custody of the parent without compelling proof. The family court system places the health and welfare of minor-aged children at a high priority, however, and sometimes awarding custody to a grandparent is the perfect solution.
That being said, the courts won't place a child with a grandparent who is unfit to parent; they would rather place the child with a stranger or another relative than compromise the child's best interests. The courts will consider the petitioning grandparent's:
- Physical and mental health
- The home environment
- The ability to provide for the child financially
- The existing relationship (if there is one) with the grandchild.
To learn more about this heart-rending situation, speak to a family law office like Goble & Yow PLLC right away.