Sometimes, a parent is unable to care for a child. While some grandparents do not seek legal authority, an informal relationship can complicate your ability to enroll them in school, make healthcare decisions, or apply for public benefits on their behalf. These problems can be avoided by seeking court approval of your arrangement.
Unlike a child’s parent, grandparents do not have automatic custody rights in most states. However, there are circumstances where you can petition the court for legal and physical custody of a grandchild. Your legal options may include:
An experienced family law attorney can help you decide which option is best for you and your grandchildren.
Unfortunately, families are sometimes faced with difficult decisions. If parents are unable to properly care for a child, grandparents may be able to step in and help. Grandparent adoptions occur due to:
Not all grandparent adoptions are confrontational. Sometimes, parents realize that their child will benefit from the stability and emotional support that grandparents can provide.
Adoptions come in many forms. Most grandparent adoptions are considered kinship adoptions (when a child is adopted by a family member). And, most grandparent adoptions are open adoptions. In an open adoption, you permit interaction between the child and his or her biological parents. This level of interaction can vary—from the occasional email or birthday card to regular meetings and activities together.
A smaller number of grandparent adoptions are closed. In a closed adoption, there is no contact between the child and his or her birth parents. Sometimes, this can help protect the child from emotional harm. However, closed kinship adoptions can complicate your family’s dynamics. And, some children struggle with the secrecy of a closed adoption as they age.
All forms of adoption require filing a petition with the court. The court will review your request (and any objections), and either approve or deny the adoption.
Depending on state law, the court may have to notify you of a grandchild’s pending adoption. You also have the right to object to another family’s adoption of your grandchild. However, the court may still approve the adoption if it is in the child’s best interest. If you object to your grandchild’s upcoming adoption, contact a family law attorney for help.
Before you adopt a grandchild, you should ask yourself a series of questions:
Adoption is a serious commitment. If you do not think you can meet your grandchild’s ongoing needs, do not pursue adoption.
Adopting a grandchild is a significant decision. It also involves interaction with social workers and the courts. A family law attorney can help you navigate the process. And, if there are objections to your request, a lawyer can help you build a strong case for the adoption.
Last Modified: 03-11-2018 08:11 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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