In a world where substance abuse, incarceration, and mental illness are common, many children find themselves without a parent to care for them. Grandparents are often the first to step in and take over when a child needs a stable home. Statistics showed that in 2010 there were 920,000 children being raised in a grandparent's home without a parent present.
If you have been providing care for a grandchild and you want to make the custody arrangement legal, here are three things that you can do.
1. Obtain a power of attorney from the child's parent if you have physical custody.
In the event that a parent has asked you to provide temporary care for a grandchild, it is essential that you take the time to have your lawyer draft a power of attorney statement. This document allows you to legally make decisions regarding your grandchild's medical and educational needs. These decisions are reserved for biological parents, unless a power of attorney has been filed with the juvenile justice court.
Having a power of attorney will make it easier for you to provide for the day-to-day needs of your grandchild while he or she is living in your home.
2. Seek legal guardianship status.
When you want to ensure that you are entitled to certain rights when it comes to raising your grandchild, it can be beneficial to seek legal guardianship. You can obtain legal guardianship by having the child's parents assign you the right, or you may be assigned as a legal guardian by a juvenile court.
Once a legal guardianship arrangement is in place you will be able to oversee any assets your grandchild has, and you may be entitled to receive child support payments from your grandchild's parents to help cover day-to-day expenses.
3. Seek to adopt your grandchild.
If you are looking to permanently have control over a grandchild living in your home, your best option might be to seek an adoption. By filing for adoption, you are asking the court to terminate the legal rights of the parents, and transfer them to you instead.
If your grandchild's parents are abusing drugs or incarcerated, adoption may be in the best interest of the child. You can work with a reputable family law attorney like J. Scott Braden to navigate the adoption process when trying to gain legal custody of your grandchild.
Stepping in to raise a grandchild can be challenging. By taking the time to make the custody of your grandchild legal, you will be able to exercise rights that will make raising the child a little easier in the future.