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Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights?

Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights?

The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is often cherished by both sides. But most grandparents would be surprised to learn that while they play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren, they may have less rights than they think. While all fifty states can have different laws and requirements concerning grandparents’ rights to gain custody or visitation, custody always belongs solely to the parents of the child unless their rights are terminated. Grandparents can only petition for guardianship or visitation when the child’s parents no longer have custody.

What is the difference between custody and visitation rights?

While custody and visitation may  often be mentioned together,  they actually are quite different. Custody refers to either physical or legal rights from a parent or guardian. Physical custody means who the child lives with. If a grandparent has physical custody of a child through a guardianship, the child lives generally in their home, and they take care of the daily needs of the child.

Legal custody refers to important decisions made for the child. Medical, schooling, and religious decisions can be made by the parent or guardian who has legal custody. If legal custody is shared, parents will need to come to an agreement.

Visitation refers to the right to see the child at scheduled times throughout the week, month, or year. Some divorced parents will have their children come stay with them every other weekend, while the opposite parent has the child under their roof most of the time. Grandparents can also gain visitation rights. In states like Nevada, grandparents can generally only gain visitation rights if the parents are no longer together either through separation, divorce, or death. If a parent restricts visitation to a grandparent, the courts will most likely side with the parent unless it can be proven that it is unreasonably restricted.

What can I do to gain custody of my grandchildren?

If you are concerned about your grandchildren’s home life or know that the parents are about to lose or give up their rights, you can request visitation or custody. Placing the child in the care of a grandparent is the next best thing if the parents are unable to care for the child. However, if the state has not deemed the parents unfit and the parents do not intend to give up their rights, a grandparent has no legal standing to gain custody of the child.

Having a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren is one of life’s sweetest gifts. If you are worried about the welfare of your grandchildren, offering to help out with buying clothing or meals is a great way to not only help your grandchildren, but also establish a positive relationship. If the custody of the children is ever up in the air, you will be in a good position to gain custody. If you believe you have a unique situation or want to learn more of what you can do to be in your grandchildren’s lives, give Warnock Family Law in Las Vegas, NV a call today.