Grandparents can be some of the most important people in a child’s life. They can care for a child when the parent has to work, they can teach the child the importance of family, and they can spoil the child rotten when necessary (and it usually is necessary from my experience). However, and sometimes unfortunately, the importance of a grandparents’ interests in being involved in the child’s life are not heeded by courts for any one of various reasons.
There are many issues that a grandparent should be thinking of when considering the best interests of their grandchild: visitation rights, possible guardianship, terminating the parental rights, and even adoption.
There are only three situations in which a grandparent has the right to ask the court for visitation with their grandchild: when the grandchild’s parents’ have divorced or legally separated, when the grandchild’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent, has died, or when the legal custody of the grandchild has been given to a party other than the parent, unless the grandchild was placed for adoption (then the grandparent could not ask for visitation). If one of these situations exist for you, you can find a form online to petition the court for visitation rights, the directions for which can be found here.
When a grandparent is not seeking visitation, but a more involved approach to the child’s life, the grandparent should consider asking for guardianship of the grandchild. Legal guardianship of a minor is granted in all sorts of situations, and can be given by written agreement of the parents, or ordered by a court. A guardianship can potentially be for a very short time (like a day) or even a much longer time (longer than six months). A guardianship agreement could be for as little as giving the grandparent authority to take the grandchild to the doctor, or could be as much as giving the grandparent the ability to make all decisions regarding the child’s life.
Sometimes it is easiest to see if all parties can come to an agreement outside of the court, but sometimes the child’s health may be in danger and the court is there to intervene. However, even if parents sign over guardianship of their child, that can easily and quickly be revoked. This means the grandparent would no longer have the rights they signed for.
In some horrible situations where the parental rights are being terminated, a grandparent could possibly petition the court to ask that they adopt the child.
In all of these situations, whether the grandparent merely wants some time with the grandchild, to the grandparent desiring to adopt the child, it is highly recommended the grandparent seek legal counsel. The law is complex when it comes to grandparents’ rights, including statutes, case law, and how the specific facts of the case may change certain procedural aspects of how grandparents can become involved. Therefore, it is in the grandparents’ best interest to speak with an experienced family law attorney and find out how to best advocate for the best interests of their grandchild. Call Peter Loyd Weber & Associates today to find out how we can help you: (720) 863-7755.