Can a Grandparent Get Custody or Visitation?

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Family Lawyer

Many people can’t wait to become grandparents when their children grow up. However, sometimes circumstances aren’t what they expected. Families feud, move far away from each other, or simply drift apart. Sometimes, parents simply aren’t providing the home they should for a child. Depending on the situation, grandparents may be able to gain temporary custody, legal guardianship, or court-appointed visitation with their grandchildren.

Granting Grandparents Temporary Custody

A grandparent can be granted temporary or permanent custody. This typically happens if one or both parents are unfit due to drug and alcohol use, mental health issues, or for another reason. Granting the grandparents custody can be for just a few months or it can be a year or longer, often resulting in a permanent custody arrangement. If grandparents get permanent custody of their grandchildren, parents must prove a change in circumstances to regain custody. Keep in mind that grandparents can only take guardianship of the children if both parents are unfit. The goal is to keep children with their parents whenever possible. 

Granting Grandparents Guardianship

In some cases, a grandparent can gain guardianship without the need for social services to become involved. This happens if a parent decides on his or her own accord that the grandparents can provide a better life for the child than either parent can. This is also an option if the parents are active-duty military members who get called overseas. For a grandparent to gain legal guardianship of grandchildren, he or she must file a petition with the court closest to the minor child’s address. Once guardianship is approved, the grandparent can enroll the child in school, move him or her to another state, and make medical decisions. 

Granting Grandparents Visitation Rights

Getting visitation rights for grandparents is often more difficult, especially if both parents are providing a healthy environment. The most common cause of grandchildren not seeing grandparents is because a divorced couple tries to keep the children from their ex-in-laws. A falling out between family members may be what causes the lack of visitation. Regardless of the reason, courts look at several things to determine whether the grandparents should get visitation rights.

If you are a grandparent who wants to spend more time with your grandchildren, hire a child custody lawyer to help you file a petition in court. As a family lawyer from would agree with, getting legal help improves your chances of spending time with your loved ones again.

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