Serving Grandparents in Modesto, CA
Grandparents are often an integral part of any child's life and are recognized as being entitled to spend time with their grandchildren. If the grandparent's own children are in the process of a divorce, they still have the right to see their grandchildren in most cases. That being said, the grandparents are secondary to the parents with regard to whom has the most direct authority and responsibility for the children, at least in general. But there can be situations where grandparents wish to seek custody of the grandchildren. If so, they should consult a Modesto family law attorney. A family lawyer can advise the grandparents what options are available to them and how to proceed.
Grandparents as Caregivers
Sometimes grandparents take on a larger role in a child's life, beyond just being part of the extended family. It is becoming more and more common for grandparents to help with the actual daily rearing of children, sometimes living under the same roof. This puts them in the category of caregiver. They do not have actual legal custody of the grandchildren, but they take an active role in raising them. They may or may not live in the same home, but they contribute in many ways, by providing a stable, caring environment, and sometimes even helping financially. Often grandparents step up in this way because the parent or parents might be deployed in the military, or they are gone for extended periods for other reasons.
Grandparents can also be caregivers by gaining custody. They take on the tasks of the care and security of the child as well as making the major decisions regarding education, religious training, medical care and other important factors. Sadly, this might occur because both parents are dead, or the children's parents themselves are not deemed fit to raise the children. Whether it's because of substance abuse, physical or mental health problems, child abuse, or they are incarcerated, the result is a child or children who are basically abandoned or neglected.
Grandparents can gain legal custody by going through the courts and becoming guardians. If a grandparent wishes to gain custody of the grandchildren, the first step is to file a petition with the court. A family lawyer can do this for you. Both parents, if both are involved, will be notified of the petition. This allows for one or both parents to attempt regaining control of their parental duties.
If, for example, the parents are unfit due to drug abuse, a grandparent may want to become the legal guardian of the child. But when the mother is notified of the petition, she may decide she wants to continue being the parent and discontinue her drug use. She will most likely regain control over her child as the parent unless it can be proven that she is in fact not fit. If the mother can demonstrate to the court that she is no longer abusing drugs and can be a responsible parent, the court can terminate the guardianship status of the grandparent.
Taking Action to Protect Your Rights
A grandparent seeking custody of a grandchild would be wise to contact a family lawyer at our local office. A knowledgeable attorney can assess the situation, advise on the best options for the grandparents, file the necessary forms with the court, and fight for grandparents' rights to custody where warranted.
We represent grandparents who want to gain custody of grandchildren. If it's necessary to demonstrate to the court that the parents are unfit, we have extensive experience in litigation, and with the best interest of the child at the forefront, we can help you. Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated, serving Modesto, California are an ally in all family law matters. Contact us today!