Family law courts generally affirm that parents have the legal rights to care for and determine what is in the best interest of their child. However, in some child custody situations, a third party, including grandparents, seeks custody. In these cases, the judge assigned to the case needs to balance the parents’ rights with the child’s best interests.
If you are a grandparent who believes your grandchild would be best living with you, you need to present a compelling case in order to get custodial rights. An experienced Stockton child custody attorney can help.
When Courts Grant Grandparent Custody
Child custody laws vary by state. It is typical for courts to prefer granting child custody to one or both parents. However, third parties may be granted child custody if both parents are unable or unwilling to care for their child.
Common circumstances that warrant the court to grant custody to grandparents, or other third parties, include:
- Both parents are deemed unfit.
- Both parents consent to giving the grandparents custody.
- Documented abuse or neglect in the parents’ home
- Drug or alcohol abuse in the child’s home.
- A parent’s mental illness.
- One parent is unfit, and the other can’t or won’t take the child.
It is important to note that even under these compelling circumstances the court may still not grant custody to the grandparents if other family members are also seeking custodial rights of the child. One important factor that may tip the court to grant the grandparents custody is if they have been acting as their grandchild’s parents prior to seeking custody. In fact, some courts even require grandparents to take this role for at least one year before granting custodial rights of their grandchildren.
Grandparent Custody After the Death of a Parent
When a custodial parent dies, courts often prefer to place the child with the other parent. The second choice is often a close blood relative. If there are several family members interested in taking custody of the child, the court weighs various factors to determine who is the best choice.
Some factors the court balances in making this decision include:
- The grandchild and custodial parent were already living with the grandparents. In this case, staying with the grandparents could provide stability.
- The parents left a will naming the grandparents as guardians.
- The child wants to live with the grandparents.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Child Custody Attorney
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you learn your legal rights and options with respect to the division of your assets.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley child custody attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or (559) 314-2796, or complete our online form.