In recent years, the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren has exploded. Currently, 2.4 million grandparents are raising 4.5 million children for various reasons. Often their own children are incarcerated or suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, rendering them unable to care for their own sons and daughters. Sometimes parents are in the military or temporarily removed from their children. If you are raising your grandchildren, you should be aware of your legal options.
Power of Attorney
At the very least, you need power of attorney when you are caring for your grandchildren. This option works best when you and your children have a good relationship with each other. With the help of a lawyer, your child can set up a power of attorney that allows you to make certain decisions for your grandchildren, including taking care of their educational and medical needs. Your child keeps his or her parental rights and can alter or drop the power of attorney at any time.
If you feel your child is an unfit parent, but he or she will not willingly give up parental rights, you will have to fight for your grandchildren in court. One option is to seek legal custody. If a judge agrees with you, he may award you temporary legal custody. In that case, your grandchildren's parents will have to go back to court to regain custody by proving that their circumstances have changed for the better.
If you feel your custody arrangement needs to be permanent, you may seek to adopt your grandchildren. In that instance, your grandchildren legally become your children and your own child will no longer have any rights where the children are concerned. You may decide to take this action if your own son or daughter is in prison, has emotional issues, neglects the children, or is unable to financially support them. Most grandparents take this step only when they feel forced to do so. However, if you feel your grandchildren will be best protected through adoption, then you should consult a lawyer at a place like Affordable Legal Centers LLC and begin the proceedings.
Raising your grandchildren is a huge emotional and financial obligation, but sometimes it is necessary step to protect the children from harm. They need security and a permanent home, and you may be the only one who can provide that for them. No matter what course you decide to follow, you need to consult with a good family attorney before you proceed.