So called "grandfamilies," familial units where grandparents head a household in which they raise their grandchildren, are becoming more common across the U.S. According to U.S. Census data, 5.4 million children younger than age 18 live in a household headed by a grandparent. Sometimes grandparents agree to take care of grandchildren due to the children's parent's substance abuse, financial difficulties, or familial problems. However, many of these grandparents do not have legal custody of their grandchildren, which may disallow them from making important decisions in a child's life.
Though a grandparent may pay for a grandchild's food, clothing, housing, and medical care, they may not have the legal rights they need and deserve. This may mean a grandparent cannot make important health and educational decisions for the child and may have to place the child back in an instable home if the child's parent requests. Thus, it is important individuals become aware of grandparents' rights and whether they may be acted upon to further the best interest of the child.
Grandparents' rights can arise in several contexts. In a divorce, for example, grandparents may step forward to retain visitation rights with a grandchild. The grandparents may have to establish a close bond with the child in order for visitation to be granted, but the fight may well be worth the trouble. Also, in instances where a child's parents are unfit to care for him, grandparents may attempt to assert their rights and obtain custody of the child.
No matter the circumstances, an Arizona family law attorney can be a powerful asset in seeking visitation rights, removing the child from unfit parents, and/or obtaining custody rights. The attorney will make every effort possible to show the strong bond between the grandparents and the grandchild as well as the suitability of the grandparents to care for the child. In the end, these cases are aimed at finding a resolution that is best for the child involved. If appropriate, an attorney will fight to convince a judge that a child's grandparents are best capable of advancing those interests.
Source: The Crystal Lake Northwest Herald, "Grandparents are taking on changing role," Stephen Di Benedetto, Nov. 10, 2013