Have you found yourself working on getting custody back from grandparents?
Taking your child back without a court order violates the grandparents legal rights.
And withholding grandchildren from grandparents with custody is breaking the law.
So, let’s talk about getting custody back from grandparents legally.
Table of Contents
- Getting Custody Back From Grandparents
- What Are Grandparent’s Rights?
- How to Stop Grandparent’s Visitation Rights
- Reasons Grandparents Can File For Custody of Grandchild
- Does Guardianship Override Parental Rights?
- Do Temporary Custody Orders Become Permanent?
- Parent’s Rights Against Grandparent’s Visitation
Getting Custody Back From Grandparents
Getting custody back from grandparents can be tricky.
You have to prove to the judge that it is in the child’s best interest for you to be getting custody back from grandparents.
The reason that grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild is that it’s in the child’s best interests.
Child custody for grandparents means they can make all the decisions in the child’s life.
Let’s talk about regaining custody of a child from a grandparent.
How to Get Custody Back From a Grandparent
Parents often turn their lives around and wonder how to get custody back from a grandparent.
To get custody back from a grandparent, request termination of the guardianship.
The parents cannot just take the children back.
They have to get custody back from a grandparent first.
How Do I Get Custody of My Child Back?
Let’s answer the question, “How do I get custody of my child back?”
To regain custody of a child from a grandparent, you have to terminate their guardianship.
Guardianship gives grandparents legal rights of the child.
When grandparents have guardianship, grandparents have the right to make all decisions for the child.
The courts terminate a grandparents’ guardianship through a court order.
When determining a parent getting custody back from grandparents, courts look at:
- is getting custody back from grandparents in the best interest of the child?
- can the parents provide a stable household for the child?
- are the parents in a fit condition to raise the child?
- what does the child want (if they are over 12 years old)?
Let’s talk about the exact steps for regaining custody of a child from a grandparent.
Regaining Custody of a Child From a Grandparent
If guardianship was a court order, you need to file a petition for getting custody back from grandparents.
Per the child custody laws, you need to file the petition in the child’s home state.
A child’s home state is the state they have lived for in the past 6 months.
You can hire a child custody lawyer to file the petition for you.
When you file the petition, you must prove to the courts that:
- your situation has changed in a positive way
- you can provide for the child’s basic needs
- you have the physical ability to care for the child
- you have the emotional ability to care for the child
- you have short term and long term plans for your family
- you have supported the child on your own
- you visit the child on a regular basis
- you are financially stable with a regular job
- you have a good relationship with the child’s family members, friends, school, and church
How to Get Back Custody of Your Child
When looking at how to get back custody of your child, the courts look at:
- the age of the child
- the health of each parent
- each parent’s ability to care for the child
- the child’s specific needs
- any criminal history
- any history of abuse
- any history of neglect
- the parent’s existing relationship with the child
- the child’s relationship with extended family
When working on regaining custody of a child from a grandparent, here are the steps you should take:
1. Hire a Child Custody Lawyer
A child custody lawyer will have experience in getting custody back from grandparents.
They will know how to fight the reasons grandparents can file for custody of grandchildren.
They know how to prove to the judge that you should get custody back.
And they know exactly how to show the judge it’s in the child’s best interests.
2. Request an Evaluation
Your child custody lawyer will ask the judge for an in-home child custody evaluation.
A child custody evaluation gives the courts an up-to-date evaluation of your home.
This can help you with getting custody back from grandparents.
(If the evaluation comes back negative, you can appeal it.)
3. Address the Issues
You’re in this situation because it was in the child’s best interests to give the grandparents legal rights.
When it comes to how to get custody back from a grandparent, you have to address the issues.
You will need to show that you have corrected any problems the judges saw before.
There are five ways:
- Unable to care
- Violating court orders
To prove that you have overcome these issues, you may have to:
- complete an addiction program
- take parenting classes
- attend counseling
- address issues in your home
4. Be Professional
As frustrating as going to court can be, it’s important that you are professional in court.
No matter what the courts ask you to provide or prove, do it.
And, whatever you do, don’t have a negative attitude about it when you’re trying to get custody back from a grandparent.
Show up to every hearing no matter how inconvenient they are.
And always show up on time to them.
Don’t reschedule any court appearances that you may have with your child’s grandparents.
And don’t reschedule and court-ordered mediations.
And, lastly, always dress up for your hearings.
The best attire that you can wear is business professional or business casual.
5. Follow Court Orders
Everything you do during this period should show the courts that you are a responsible parent.
While your child custody is being reevaluated, follow all court orders.
Show up to all scheduled visitations and parenting time that you have.
Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation.
This means be polite and courteous towards the grandparents at all times.
And if you have visitation time, bring your children back on time.
Basically, don’t give the courts any reasons to question your reliability as a parent.
Let’s talk about what are grandparent’s rights.
What Are Grandparent’s Rights?
Without a court order, grandparents only have the right to ask for visitation.
Grandparent’s legal rights and the grandparent’s visitation rights are non-existent.
But if there is a court-ordered visitation, the grandparents can enforce that.
Without one, seeing the grandchild is up to the parents.
Grandparents Legal Rights
The grandparent’s legal rights are very limited.
This is the case even if the grandparents are providing most of the care for the child.
And even if the parents are making terrible decisions for the children.
Parents will only lose custody of their children if they are:
- neglecting or abusing the children
- addicted to drugs or alcohol
- unable to care for the children
Let’s talk about the 2008 Federal Fostering Connections Act.
This states that when a parent loses custody, the adult relative must get notified.
This means that the court may be willing to give the grandparents legal rights to the child.
To get the grandparent’s legal rights, they have to file a petition asking for child custody.
Depending on the scenario, the custody arrangement can look like:
- physical custody with the power of attorney
- being foster parents
- full legal custody
Work with a child custody lawyer that has experience fighting for the grandparent’s legal rights.
Up next, the grandparent’s visitation rights.
Grandparents Visitation Rights
Grandparents’ visitation rights are not the same as grandparents’ legal rights.
Child visitation laws restrict a grandparent’s visitation rights.
When considering a grandparent’s visitation rights, there are two routes:
- restrictive visitation
- permissive visitation
For restrictive visitation, the only reason the courts consider a grandparent’s visitation rights is if:
- the parents get divorced
- either one of the parents dies
For permissive visitation, the courts will consider a grandparent’s visitation rights even if:
- both parents are alive
- the parents are still married
For permissive visitation, the courts will determine whether it’s in the best interest of the child.
What Right Do Grandparents Have to See Their Grandchildren?
What right do grandparents have to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents do not have any rights to see their grandchildren.
The only reason grandparents have the right to see their grandchildren is if they have a court order.
To get a court order giving a grandparent rights, you have to show that you have a strong relationship with the grandchildren.
Meaning you must have already met the grandchild and built a relationship with them.
Some states allow third party relatives to petition for reasonable visitation rights.
Third-party relatives include grandparents of the child.
This type of petition can only get filed if the parents are separated.
Or, if the child is not living with both parents.
When you’re trying to get grandparent visitation rights, you will have to prove that:
- the health or welfare of the child is at stake without grandparent visitation
- grandparent visitation rights are in the child’s best interests
How to Stop Grandparent’s Visitation Rights
If you’re trying to figure out how to stop grandparent’s visitation rights, you can petition the courts to terminate grandparent visitation rights.
You only need to go this route if they have court ordered grandparent visitation rights.
Otherwise, you do not have to give the grandparents visitation rights to your child.
You are not legally obligated to let the grandparents visit the child.
Withholding Grandchildren From Grandparents
Grandparents do not have rights to their grandchildren.
This means that withholding grandchildren from grandparents is legal.
Parents can withhold the grandchildren from grandparents in almost any scenario.
Even though grandparents don’t have rights to grandchildren, they do have options.
- repair the relationship with the parent
- file a petition for visitation rights
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?
Grandparent’s visitation rights are pretty non-existent.
They only have the right to ask for visitation.
Grandparent visitation rights are not automatically granted.
Grandparents can file a petition to get visitation rights.
Here are things to consider before filing a petition for grandparent visitation rights:
- financial costs
- loss of privacy
- the effects on the grandchildren
Reasons Grandparents Can File For Custody of Grandchild
Let’s talk about the reasons grandparents can file for custody of a child.
Generally, the parents have legal rights to determine what is best for the child.
But sometimes, grandparents want to know how to get custody of grandchildren.
When you have grandparents fighting for custody of grandchildren, the courts take into account:
- the parental rights
- the child’s best interests
Child Custody When Both Parents Are Alive
If both parents are alive, the courts like to give custody to both of the parents.
They believe that it is in the child’s best interest to grow up with both parents.
This is true even if the parents are divorced.
Grandparents can get custody of a grandchild if both parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child.
Some reasons grandparents can file for custody of grandchild are:
- both parents are deemed unfit to raise the child
- both parents consent to giving custody to grandparents
- abuse and neglect of the child
- drug or alcohol abuse
- the parent’s mental illness
But grandparents fighting for custody of grandchildren will not always get it.
Custody could go to another family member who also wants the child.
If the grandparents have been raising the child, that’s a big factor in the courts giving custody to grandparents.
It’s possible that the courts award grandparents legal rights of the child.
Even if they don’t give the grandparents legal rights, they can give the grandparents visitation rights.
Child Custody When Both Parents Die
Generally, if one parent dies, the other parent will get full custody of the child.
This is true even if that parent is not actively involved with the child.
The second choice is giving full custody of a child to another close relative.
But sometimes, the grandparents are not the only ones who want custody of the child.
The courts will determine who is best suited to be able and willing to take care of the child.
They make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests.
Some reasons that courts will give child custody to the grandparents are:
- the child and parents were living with the grandparents
- the parents left a will giving guardianship to grandparents
- the child wants to live with the grandparents
But this doesn’t mean the courts will give the grandparents legal rights.
The courts consider other things when determining whether they should transfer custody of a child to a grandparent.
These include the grandparents’ age, health, and finances.
A grandparent can file for custody of the grandchild in the county the child lives in.
They will need to file a petition at the county’s Superior Court.
If the judge deems the it in the child’s best interests, they will give a court order giving custody to grandparents.
How to Transfer Custody of Child to Grandparents
If you want to transfer custody of a child to a grandparent, it can get done via a mutual agreement.
In this case, a petition does not need to get filed at the family courts.
The grandparents will not have legal custody of the child.
The grandchild will live with the grandparent.
If you want to give the grandparents legal rights, then a petition has to get filed.
For legal custody to transfer, the grandparents need temporary guardianship.
During guardianship, the grandparent’s legal rights are like a parent’s.
Giving Custody to Grandparents
When it comes to giving custody to grandparents, there are two options.
- the grandparents being foster parents
- having legal and physical custody
If the parents are unfit to raise the children, the state will take the children away from them.
Grandparents may get offered the opportunity to be foster parents to their grandchildren.
This gives the grandparents physical custody of the grandchild.
The state will keep legal custody of the child.
Meaning that the state gets to make all major decisions for the child.
And the grandchild will live with and get taken care of by the grandparents.
Legal and Physical Custody
If a grandparent wants legal and physical custody, they can file a petition with the courts.
This petition asks the courts to give grandparents rights to make all major decisions for the child.
When the grandparents have custody, the parents usually have visitation rights too.
Giving Temporary Custody to Grandparents
The most common form of giving temporary custody to grandparents is a power of attorney.
When the grandparents are responsible for the grandkids who are living with them, that’s physical custody.
This happens when parents ask the grandparents to take care of the children for a short time.
The grandparents having physical custody is usually an informal arrangement.
When this happens, grandparents should have power of attorney.
This allows them to make medical and emergency decisions when the parent is not able to.
A power of attorney can get revoked at any time.
Giving Guardianship to Grandparents
Giving guardianship to grandparents usually means the parent retains visitation rights.
Grandparent guardianship varies from state to state.
Some states consider grandparent guardianship as legal custody.
Other states consider guardianship as having extra child custody rights.
Rights like being able to name a different person to care for the child if they become unable to.
Does Guardianship Override Parental Rights?
Guardianship overrides parental rights when parental rights go against court orders.
If parental rights do not oppose the court orders, guardianship does not override parental rights.
Usually, guardianship is given when the parents are unfit or have passed away.
If the parents have been deemed unfit to raise the child, the courts can appoint a guardian of the child.
In this case, the courts have issued a court order for guardianship.
Guardianship overrides parental rights if the parent:
- tries to take the child
- tries to make medical, educational, or religious decisions
Remember, whether guardianship only overrides parental rights based on the court order.
That may or may not pertain to everything on this list.
Do Grandparents Have Rights?
Do grandparents have rights to their grandchildren?
Grandparents don’t have rights unless they have a court order.
Grandparents can get rights to their grandchildren when:
- the parents are unable to care for the child
- the parents are deceased
- the parents are incarcerated
These are a couple of situations for how to get custody of grandchildren.
Let’s look at the typical reasons the courts would consider to transfer custody of a child to a grandparent.
- death of a parent
- a missing parent (one of the parents have been missing for 6+ months)
- the parent’s marital state (parents are not married, divorced, or separated)
- foreign visitation order (out-of-state court order granting grandparents rights to see grandchildren)
- irreparable harm (the child has lived with the grandparents for 1+ years and moving them out would cause irreparable harm)
- the relationship (the grandparent has a significant existing relationship with the child)
Even if all these conditions are met, grandparents do not have rights to grandchildren just yet.
Grandparents must prove that having rights to grandchildren is in the best interest of the child.
Most states also require the court to consider:
- whether there is an existing relationship between the child and grandparent
- the effect of the grandparents’ rights to their grandchildren on the parent’s relationship
- a showing of harm to the grandchild is grandparent rights get denied
How Do I Get Guardianship of My Grandchild?
Grandparent guardianship allows the grandparents to care for a minor child.
It also gives grandparents legal rights.
If you’re wondering, “how do I get guardianship of my grandchild,” the two steps you need to take are:
- The grandparent must fill out a guardianship petition with the court.
- The court must approve the guardianship petition. Then, they will be giving guardianship to grandparents.
When it comes to how do I get guardianship of my grandchild, there are four types of grandparent guardianship.
- Planned Guardianships (Parents name the guardians)
- Dependency Guardianships (Appointed when the child is abused or neglected)
- Voluntary Guardianships (Parents give up custody)
- Contested Guardianships (Parents will fight you for custody)
How to Get Custody of Grandchildren
If you are trying to figure out how to get custody of grandchildren, it’s an uphill battle.
First, grandparents must prove that their age, health, and finances are enough to care for the grandchild.
A grandparent must have a strong case to succeed in getting custody of grandchildren.
Courts like to see the children raised by both parents.
Giving custody to grandparents must be in the child’s best interests.
Unless the parents willingly transfer custody of the child to a grandparent, then you have to prove that the parents are unfit.
Basically, you have to show that the parents:
- abuse or neglect the child
- have drug or alcohol abuse
- have a mental illness
Even if you prove that the parents are unfit, the courts may not end up giving custody to grandparents.
The grandparents are up against other family members seeking custody.
When there are several claims for custody, the courts will do what’s in the best interest of the child.
Sometimes, the courts want the child to have lived with the grandparents for 1+ years before giving custody to the grandparents.
But if one of the parents who have custody dies, it becomes easier to get child custody for grandparents.
Usually, the courts will give the living parent sole legal custody.
That is unless it’s the child’s best interests not to do so.
When that’s the case, the courts are more likely to transfer custody of the child to the grandparent.
Grandparent Adopting Grandchild
Grandparents adopting grandchildren is more likely if the child is living with them.
Talk to the caseworker about grandparents adopting grandchildren if the child lives with you via child services.
Hire a custody lawyer if you want to adopt a grandchild you have custody or guardianship of currently.
After you have proof showing that the parents are unfit, you can file a petition.
This is a petition that allows the grandparents to adopt the grandchild.
When a grandparent is adopting the grandchild, it’s a kinship adoption.
This means that it’s an open adoption and you can permit the child to see the parents.
Sometimes when there are grandparents adopting grandchildren, the adoption is closed.
A closed adoption does not allow the parents to see the child.
Closed adoptions protect the child from harmful parents.
Do Temporary Custody Orders Become Permanent?
Temporary custody orders are likely to become permanent custody orders.
Children and parents become accustomed to temporary custody.
This is why temporary custody orders usually become permanent custody orders.
It’s important that parents and grandparents take temporary custody orders very seriously.
Parents Rights vs Grandparents Child Custody
When it comes to parent’s rights vs grandparent’s rights, child custody favors the parents.
Parents will have to give up their parental rights to child custody to give the grandparents rights.
That is unless the grandparents can prove that the parents are unfit to raise the children.
Essentially, grandparents don’t have child custody rights.
And the grandparents visitation rights are left up to the parents to decide.
To get the grandparents child custody rights, they have to file a petition.
Only a court order can give the grandparents child custody rights.
Temporary Custody of Grandchildren
To get temporary custody of grandchildren, an application must get filed with the probate courts.
A hearing is usually granted within 30 days of the application for temporary custody getting filed.
A social worker from the Department of Child and Family will visit the grandparents.
They want to make sure that the grandparents can take care of the grandchild.
If the social worker believes the grandparents can, the courts will grant them temporary custody of the grandchildren.
How Much Visitation Can Grandparents Get?
When it comes to how much visitation can grandparents get, it depends on the parents.
Grandparent visitation can be limited to one day per month.
Grandparent visitation can also be much more liberal.
It depends on how much grandparent visitation the parents allow.
You can seek grandparent visitation rights in three scenarios:
- if the grandchild’s parents are unmarried
- if the parents have divorced or legally separated
- if the parents have died
Grandparent visitation rights are granted if the courts feel it’s in the child’s best interests.
The courts also consider the parents wished of whether grandparents have visitation rights.
Parent’s Rights Against Grandparent’s Visitation
Parents do not have to allow the grandparents visitation rights.
If grandparents want visitation rights, they can file a petition with the court.
If there is a court order, the parents’ rights against grandparent’s visitation doesn’t exist.
The parent would be breaking the law if they did not follow the visitation court order.
How Can Grandparents Get Custody of Grandchild?
The best way grandparents can get custody of grandchildren is by proving that the parents are unit.
The grandparents fighting for custody of grandchildren should:
- prove that the parents are unfit
- prove their own age, health, and finances won’t make themselves unfit
- prove there would be harm to the child if they lived with the parents
Sometimes there is also evidence that the parents are violent, abuse drugs, or have a mental illness.
In this case, it’s much easier for grandparents fighting for custody of grandchildren.
Can Grandparents Get Custody Over Fathers?
Grandparents can get custody over fathers.
If the father gets deemed unfit to raise the child, then the grandparents can get temporary custody of grandchildren.
The courts believe that it’s in the child’s best interests to live with both parents.
Here are some reasons how can grandparents get custody over fathers:
- the parents are deceased (feels obvious, but worth mentioning)
- the courts deem the parents unfit to raise the children
- one parent is unfit and the other doesn’t want the child
- the parents agree to giving custody to grandparents
- the child has lived with the grandparents 1+ years
- drug and alcohol abuse
- a parent’s mental illness
- neglect or abuse of the child
Some states require the grandparents to raise the child for at least a year before they consider child custody for grandparents.
But the courts will determine what’s in the child’s best interest.
If it’s that the grandparents get custody over the father, then they will grant it.
Over to You
If you want to see what your options are on getting custody back from grandparents…
Or you’re are the grandparents fighting for custody of grandchildren…
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