The grandparents’ love for their grandchildren knows no bounds. It’s all pure love. But, when it comes to legal provisions, grandparents do not have many rights over their grandchildren. In this article, we will explore the rights of grandparents, and make you understand why the rights of grandparents are important. The grandparent rights are addressed in state laws.
One might think that loving and caring for your grandchildren will automatically give you right to look after them, but that’s not the case. Be warned, it’s the parents that call the shots, and the law will take their side. But there are possibilities that you, being a grandparent may get visitation rights and custody too.
And if there is any issue that persists between husband and wife, the grandparent is not allowed to interfere between them. Otherwise, the grandparents can be banished from visiting the house.
The parents are in control
The parents have all the rights concerning their children. Since they tend to look after their children and provide for their necessities. Only in a case of abuse or neglect, a court can act to provide the custody of the children to the grandparents, but that too after long deliberations. When the home environment is stabilized then a child will be returned to his parent. Parent and child reunification is the main purpose of the law as this is the best way a child should be raised. It is absolutely right for both the parents and the child.
In almost every phase of a child’s life, it is the parents who decide what the child should have and not have. As long as the child is not getting harmed, or he is not exposed to any type of violence or risk, the decisions taken by the parents concerning the child will remain unchallenged.
There is another scenario in which a child can be removed from the custody of its parents. If the parents are found to have indulged in substance abuse, the court can decide to provide the custody of a child to his/her grandparents. But for this to materialize, the child must appear to be neglected or harmed. Any allegations must be proven beyond doubt. In many cases, the child is not usually affected, hence the law does not interfere.
Grandparents might be able to provide a better home life with no neglect or abuse, or no substance abuse even. But if the law does not deem it necessary to remove the child/children from the parents, the grandparents have no legal authority over their grandchildren.
When the law removes the grandchildren to another home
When the grandchildren are at risk of abuse, neglect or could be exposed to some other harm, then the grandparents have the right to be notified. According to law, all adult relatives must be identified and notified about revoking the custody of the children from parents. These relatives then have the right to decide what is in the best interest of the children.
If the grandparents take the responsibility for caring for their grandchildren then the law treats the situation the same way, as foster parents care for children. But in addition, grandparents might want to seek custody of their grandchildren. Perhaps the grandparents are too old or might not have the resources to really provide the care grandchildren need.
The grandparents might file a legal claim for a child’s custody, but their petition will be usually treated as any other party that wants to have custody of the children. If the grandparents win the petition by proving that they are physically fit, have the resources, and do care for their grandchildren, and the love is reciprocal, then the grandparents can get physical custody of children along with the power of attorney.
If the grandparents can prove any abuse by the parents, the law can then take legal action to take away the children. They may also get foster parenting rights, or full legal custody of children. In some cases, they can get child adoption rights too.
That is why governments do have provisions for grandparent rights.
The grandparents right to visit their grandchildren
A grandparent’s rights to visitation are different to any type of custody rights. All the states in America have addressed grandparents’ visitation rights in respective state laws.
A general note to grandparents
The law might support grandparent visitations but not all grandparents are advised to pursue legal routes to get their legal visitation rights. Even if the grandparents win a child custody case in court, enforcing the law is difficult. But many grandparents tend to follow this route. They file suits to get their rights to visitations.
Grandparents are encouraged to maintain a good relationship with their grandchildren to avoid getting into a situation where they are prohibited to visit their grandchildren. Also keep an eye how your children are handling your grandchildren. Keep notes on everything. And save up and look for a good attorney, if you want to have custody of your grandchildren. You do have grandparent rights.
More importantly, grandparents must have a loving relationship with their grandchildren. Always try to be involved with them. Share photos, and write letters. Get interested in their hobbies and school lives. Make the best use of this precious relationship with your grandchild/grandchildren. The advantage is yours.
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