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:
- "Best interests of the child" doctrine: According to this doctrine, custody should be awarded in accordance with the best interests of the child. Custody depends on what is right for the child.
- "Parental rights" doctrine: This doctrine presumes that the child’s best interests lie in being raised by his or her biological parents. This is one of the biggest barriers a grandparent has to overcome in custody disputes with a child’s parents.
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:
- The love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the parties seeking custody
- The ability of the parties seeking custody to provide a safe home and food, clothing, and medical care
- The mental and physical health needs of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parties seeking custody
- The presence of domestic violence in the home
- The preference of the child
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.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-22-2013 01:10 PM PDT
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