In a perfect world, all parents would have the tools, resources, and ability to care for their own children. Unfortunately, there are children living in situations with toxic parents who simply are not equipped to provide proper care. In these situations, grandparents often attempt to step in and provide the level of care that the grandchildren need. In an effort to create stability, grandparents in this situation frequently seek out legal custody. Although everyone uses the term custody, here it is really a “guardianship”. Is it possible for grandparents to get custody (guardianship) from toxic parents? The short answer is, sometimes. The courts do not take removing children from the custody of their parents lightly. There are very few areas that the courts view as serious enough to consider terminating a parent’s rights, or placing their children with someone other than a parent.
Potential reasons a grandparent can seek custody (guardianship) of grandchildren
The physical safety of the child is a major concern of the court when it comes to determining custody. Substance abuse in the home, neglect, physical abuse, or an unsafe environment are all issues that can result in the removal by Child Protective Services (CPS) of a child from the home. If you know or suspect that your grandchildren are living in a situation where they are in physical danger then you may have a case for having them removed by CPS, from their parents, and you should immediately call CPS. If the children are not having their basic needs met – food, shelter, proper clothing, bathing, proper medical and dental care – the court may determine that placement should be granted to another adult in the child’s life. In some situations, the grandparents have physical custody of the grandchildren before applying for legal custody. If a parent abandons a child to the care of a grandparent, the grandparent can seek custody, placement, or a guardianship in order to help create stability for the child.
Where grandparents can find help with gaining custody (guardianship) of grandchildren
Grandparents who are seeking custody (guardianship) of their grandchildren need the help of a lawyer who is familiar with the process. Child custody cases can be complex and extremely emotional for the parties involved. If you are dealing with parents who are toxic then it is unlikely that you will be able to come to an agreement about custody without the intervention of the courts and help of a lawyer. Get a professional on your side to ensure that you have the best chance of getting your grandchildren out of a toxic situation. Choose a lawyer who focuses in family law.
First steps grandparents seeking custody (guardianship) need to take
If you are seeking custody of your grandchildren, the first step you need to take is to schedule an appointment with a family law attorney. In your initial appointment with a family lawyer, you can talk about your concerns and get help determining how to get your grandchildren in your care. Be sure and choose a local lawyer who is experienced handling child custody and guardianship cases in your locale.
It is unfortunate to be faced with a situation where you need to get your grandchildren away from toxic parents. Protecting the safety and wellbeing of your grandchildren is worth the fight. The good news is that you do not need to face any of this on your own. Get an experienced family law attorney on your side who will guide you and fight for you throughout the process.