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Raising Your Grandchild: Legal Issues

If you find yourself raising your grandchild, remember that you are not alone and a variety of resources are available to grandparents raising their grandchild. Varying degrees of custody are available, and your legal relationship will determine what benefits are available to you as well as your rights when dealing with the education and health systems.

Formal Ties

The relationship you have with your grandchild's parents will help you decide which legal action to pursue. If the parents will not release custody of your grandchild, you can hire an attorney and sue your grandchild's parents in court. However, you must be able to prove your grandchild's parents are unfit to raise their child. Consider the following legal options carefully:

Powers of Attorney: your grandchild's parents might need to take a temporary leave, and you will need to make certain decisions for your grandchild. Parents can create a power of attorney which allows you to enroll your grandchild in school or seek medical attention if necessary. The power of attorney does not dissolve parental rights, and the individual who created the power of attorney can revoke your rights at anytime. This legal action is helpful to grandparents who are caring for their grandchild temporarily.

Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit: this option is also beneficial to grandparents who are only seeking to enroll their grandchild in school and/or seek medical attention.

Adoption: this legal action will grant you full parental rights. If you decide to adopt your grandchild, your grandchild's parents no longer have any legal rights over the child. If your state offers an open adoption, your grandchild will still be able to have contact with his or her parents. Adoption can also cause you to lose certain financial aid, but you might be able to get assistance from other programs.

Legal Guardianship: parents still hold some rights with this option, and your grandchild's parents can ask a judge to end the guardianship at anytime. A legal guardianship can serve as a legal measure to help balance power between yourself and the grandchild's parents.

Legal custody: this custody is granted by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and you may be eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families among other types of aid. Full custody is also granted if the parents are abusive, terminally ill, dead, or incarcerated. If your grandchild's parents are still alive, they can still try to regain custody of their child.

Formal Kinship: you can raise your grandchild through the foster care system with a formal kinship. The state might provide you with some financial assistance, but the state will retain legal custody of your grandchild, meaning they can remove your grandchild from your care at any time.

Navigating your way through the legal system can be stressful. Make sure to preserve your health and manage your stress safely since you'll be caring for your grandchild.

For more resources and information about raising your grandchild, visit: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Grandparents.shtml

 


 

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