In a perfect world, every child would have a safe, supportive home. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some instances, the state may intervene and remove children from homes it deems are unfit. In other cases, extended family members (such as grandparents) may choose to take on the child-rearing responsibilities instead.
While it is possible for grandparents to be excellent guardians for their grandchildren, there is much more involved in the process than simply removing the grandchildren from their parents’ home. Deputy & Mizell, LLC is here to help you get a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a grandparent raising your grandchild. Legal Issues That May Arise If you decide to take on the responsibilities of raising your grandchild, there are a number of legal situations that may require your attention. Simply removing the child from her parents’ home does not give you legal right to make official decisions on the child’s behalf, even if in all practicality you have been her caregiver for several months. Unless you make you custody arrangement legally official, you will not have the right to:
Make medical decisions on your grandchild’s behalf
Enroll your grandchild in school
Obtain health insurance coverage for your grandchild
Seek assistance from the state to cover the costs of food, clothing, and other necessities
Additionally, you will not have the legal right to prevent the parents from seeing your grandchild – or from taking her back into their home if they choose to do so. If you believe that the parents are unfit to care for the child or that the child may suffer under her parents’ care, you may want to take steps to obtain legal custody of your grandchildren.
Obtaining Guardianship Rights As A Grandparent
If you are seeking custodial rights of your grandchild, you will typically have two options available to you.
Power Of Attorney
Depending on your relationship with the child’s parents, they may offer you temporary authority to care for the child. By drafting a power of attorney, the parents can specify which legal rights you will have. Depending on your family’s specific needs, the parents can grant you physical custody, the right to authorize medical decisions, the right to enroll her in school, etc.
This is most common in teenage pregnancies or other situations where the child’s parents are not ready or unable/unwilling to manage the responsibilities of raising a child. It is important to note that the parents still maintain official custody, and they have the right to revoke the power of attorney at any time.
Kinship Foster Care & Adoption
If the child has been removed from her parents’ home by the state, you may pursue custody of the child through kinship foster care. Fostering the child does not give you legal custody, but it allows her to remain in your home and in your care while the state finds a permanent adoptive home.
In many cases, you can work towards the goal of legally adopting your grandchild so that your home the child’s permanent adoptive home. This may be ideal, as it will prevent the child from being bounced around to multiple different homes and from living with foster/adoptive parents she does not know.
Questions? Contact Deputy & Mizell, LLC
As a grandparent, you understandably care deeply about your grandchild’s safety and well-being. If you believe that your grandchild is in an unsafe or unsupportive situation, you may be able to pursue legal action to protect her by obtaining custody or a power of attorney.
If you would like to learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities as a grandparent, contact our family attorneys in Lebanon MO. We have experience working with the unique complexities of cases involving grandparent guardianship, and we would be honored to put our knowledge and skills to work for you.