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Is child custody an option when caring for grandchildren?

When grandparents in Texas agree to take over the care of their grandchildren, their decisions may be emotional. The legal implications may only become evident later. In order to raise a happy and healthy grandchild, certain legal issues may need to be addressed. If the grandparents do not have legal child custody, the decisions they are allowed to make will be limited.

The circumstances of each family are unique, and the relationship between the grandparents and parents, along with the reason for removing the children from the parents, may play a significant role in how legalities will be approached. If a loving parent simply does not have the means to care for the child, mutual agreements may be possible. However, if the children were removed by authorities, grandparents may consider legal action to seek guardianship or child custody. If child custody is awarded, parents can only regain custody by going to court and demonstrating significant changes to justify their claim.

A family court will only consider awarding child custody to grandparents in certain circumstances. These may include abusive or neglecting parents, and parents who are divorced, incarcerated, deceased or found incompetent. If any of these conditions are present, and the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months, child custody may be awarded. As custodial parents, the grandparents may have the right to receive medical and financial support from the parents of the grandchild.

Relevant state laws vary, and Texas grandparents may benefit from retaining the services of an experienced child custody attorney. After assessing the dynamics of the family, a lawyer will explain the rights of the grandparents. Together, they can then examine the legal options that will best serve the interests of the children. Circumstances will likely determine the level of legal action grandparents need to take to provide safe and loving surroundings for their grandchildren.

Source: helpguide.org, "Grandparents' Rights and Custody Options", Accessed on March 13, 2015

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