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Custody Options Available to Grandparents

By Kushal N. Davé, Esq.

Most agree that grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren’s lives. When reflecting on our childhood memories, we often recall visiting our grandparents. Grandparents can sometimes become parents to their grandchildren under special circumstances such as divorce or separation. There are four different types of custody options available to grandparents: physical custody, legal custody, guardianship, and adoption.

Physical Custody
Physical custody is available when the grandparent and the parent have an agreement. This allows the grandparent to have custody of the children. However the grandparents cannot make important decisions for the child unless they have a power of attorney.

Legal Custody
Legal custody allows for the grandparents to make important decisions for the children. Legal custody gives the grandparent the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child, and key aspects of the child’s welfare. This includes decisions such as the child’s education, medical care, dental care, and religious instruction. Legal custody available to grandparents is applicable when the parent and the grandparent had an agreement. With legal custody, the parent can someday regain custody of their children, though it will require a legal ruling.

Guardianship
A grandparent seeking a long-term relationship with their grandchildren can become guardians. Guardianship is similar to legal custody, in that it is a legal relationship between you and your grandchild that is ordered by the court. Similar to legal custody, the grandparents accept the day-to-day caregiving responsibilities for the child, while the parents retain some of their rights. The main difference is that guardianship is usually handled in probate court. Generally, a parent retains visitation rights while a child is under the guardianship of a grandparent.

Adoption
Adoption is more complex than the other types of custody. Adoption is a permanent option where the grandparent receives all the parental rights and responsibilities for the child. The biological parents no longer have any rights once the adoption is complete.

There are different custody rights available to grandparents. Everybody’s situation is different, therefore when determining what is best for the child, it is important to understand these rights before seeking any future custody arrangement.

THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED IN YOUR JURISDICTION BEFORE ACTING ON ANY OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG.