Grandparents Custody Rights

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Grandparents Custody Rights

Grandparents may seek custody of their grandchildren for any number of reasons. For example, grandparents commonly seek to express child custody rights upon the death or incarceration of the child’s parents.

Grandparents’ Rights in a Custody Battle with the Child's Parent

In custody battles between a child’s parents and grandparents, courts usually base their decision on two basic doctrines: 

States differ in their application of the "parental rights" doctrine. Grandparents can usually overcome the "parental rights" doctrine if they can prove that the parents are "unfit." However, the definition of "unfit" varies by state. Generally, parents who have been abusive or neglectful are "unfit." A parent who has a mental disorder or addiction may also be "unfit."

States also differ in their application of the "best interests of the child" doctrine. Some states have statutes that provide a list of factors that courts should consider when determining what is in the child's best interests. Other states have identified factors in custody and visitation cases for determining a child’s best interests. Common factors for determining a child’s best interest include the following:

Grandparents’ Rights in a Custody Battle with Someone Other than the Child's Parent

In custody battles between grandparents and someone other than the child’s parent, courts employ the "best interest of child" doctrine. Courts will use the aforementioned "best interest of the child" factors to determine who should get custody of the child.

However, being a grandparent is also an important factor in court’s determination. All else being equal, courts will favor a grandparent over someone other than the child’s parent.

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding my Grandparent Custody Rights?

If you are a grandparent and seeking custody of a grandchild, you should consult an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can determine whether custody is an option for you and can help you file a petition for custody.

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Last Modified: 10-22-2013 01:10 PM PDT

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