Grandparent Rights: Visitation and Custody

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Parents alone have a fundamental right to make any decisions regarding the wellbeing of their children. In simple terms, this means that only parents can decide what is best for their children, including who gets to visit those children. If you want to visit your grandchildren and the parents won’t let you, you may need to visit with a lawyer to review your options.

Power of Attorney

If all parties agree, parents can create a power of attorney granting grandparents temporary permission to make decisions on behalf of the child. That power of attorney can be revoked at any time and does not grant grandparents permanent custody. This is a temporary solution that allows grandparents to obtain the legal right to make specific decisions for their grandchild. Signing of the document does not mean biological parents have lost all parental rights.

Visitation and Custody

The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) receives calls from grandparents who are denied access to their grandchildren–denied visitation. Since the courts have ruled that only parents can decide who gets to visit their children, grandparents are left with few options. Grandparents must show that the children are harmed by not seeing their grandparents.

In order for the courts to grant full custody to grandparents, grandparents must show that the parents are unfit or the children are unsafe in the parents care due to abuse or neglect, mental illness, or drug abuse. Both parents can also agree to give up custody. Before placing children in new permanent homes, the courts also take into consideration the ability of grandparents to care for young children.

Kinship Foster Care

This type of care usually starts with Child Protective Service removing children from an unsafe home environment and the courts placing children with a stable family member. In such scenarios, grandparents can acquire temporary custody of their grandchildren through kinship foster care. This type of care does not grant legal custody, the grandparent may have to seek consent from an authorized state agency before making any major decisions. Kinship foster care enables children to have a nurturing, home-like environment, and entitles grandparents to take care of their daily needs.

Find a Lawyer

Issues of grandparent rights can be complex, which is why it is essential to hire an experienced family law attorney. The Lawyer Referral Service staff will listen to your situation and help you determine your next steps. We may referral you to a lawyer or to another community agency for help. To learn more, please submit an online request  or call us at (512) 472-8303.

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