Grandparents and Child Custody
In certain situations, a grandparent may feel that assuming legal guardianship is in the best interest of his or her grandchild. Although child custody is a right usually reserved for the parents of a child, grandparents may be awarded guardianship in particular cases.
A court may award legal custody to a child’s grandparents if the parents are no longer willing or able to take care of the child, or if the court deems the parents unfit to continue care. If the parents are seriously injured or killed in an accident, the court will appoint a blood relative to care for the children. In other cases, a court may terminate parental rights for one or both parents and custody may be reassigned to a grandparent or close relative. Grounds for termination of parental rights can include:
- Abuse, neglect, or injury of the child or another child
- Inability to provide a safe environment
- Lack of contact or relationship between parent and child
- Willing revocation of parental rights
If the rights of one parent are terminated, the other parent gains sole custody of the child. A grandparent may apply to be a co-guardian with the sole parent and legally share responsibility for the child. If the rights of both parents are terminated or the parents are otherwise unable to care for the child because of an accident, the court will appoint a new guardian. The court will take into account the potential guardian’s financial status, physical health, and mental condition to determine if he or she is able to care for the child.
To learn more about child custody, termination of parental rights, or grandparents’ rights in the event of a divorce, contact the Raleigh divorce lawyers of the Marshall & Taylor PLLC at (919) 833-1040.