As a grandparent, you have two generations of loved ones whom you care for and are protective over. While it’s likely that you care for your children very much, it may not always be the case that you approve of their choice of partner or of their parenting. You may worry about the well-being of your grandchild when they are in their parents’ care. If this is the case, you may want to take action to protect them.
No child should be subject to abuse, whether it’s physical or emotional. They should also not have to live in an environment where their parents are abusing substances – such as drugs and alcohol. If you are concerned about your grandchild’s safety and want to protect them, it may be worth exploring your options to obtain custody of them.
Can I gain custody of my grandchild simply because they are at risk?
If you believe that your grandchild is at risk of abuse or neglect, you should contact the police first to take immediate protective action. They can take steps to move your grandchild to safety. In addition, the findings of the police can help support your case when it comes to ruling on how to protect your grandchild.
However, reporting abuse to the police does not necessarily mean that you, as the grandparent, will be able to gain custody. If it is determined that it is not in the child’s best interests to be in the care of their biological parents, the court will consider alternatives – and you can petition to obtain custody of them.
In cases of abuse and neglect, the grandparent may only have the possibility of gaining custody in certain circumstances. The main criteria in evaluating alternatives will focus on what will have the maximum benefit for the child.
In determining a child’s best interest, the court may consider such factors as:
- The closeness of the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent
- The relationship between the grandparent and the parents
- Any criminal history of the grandparent
- The “arrangement that best maintains a child’s emotional growth, health and stability, and physical care”
- The arrangement that best serves to “protect the child from physical, mental, or emotional harm”
The possibility of your grandchild growing up in a dangerous environment is a terrible circumstance to have to face. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney about your grandparent rights can be a good first step to helping your grandchild.