Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents are usually quite excited and happy to welcome a new little baby into the family. Spending time with your grandchildren is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Joy can quickly turn to frustration and heartbreak if divorce causes you to be unable to visit your grandchildren. For many years, grandparents had no rights whatsoever and were left without any ability to visit their grandchildren if the parents opposed it. Today, the laws have softened slightly in regards to grandparents’ rights. However, it is still a complex and difficult area of the law. An experienced Mooresville family law attorney can help you resolve these types of issues.

What are a Grandparent’s Rights?

Today’s grandparents are often very involved in the lives of their grandchildren. They may watch them on a daily basis and may pick them up after school. A grandparent may be considered one of the child’s primary caregivers. When the family is broken due to divorce, both parents are generally allowed parenting time. Parents may then allow grandparents to visit with the children.

Questions arise when grandparents are not in contact with their children or when a parent is not part of the child’s life after divorce. Grandparents still want to see their grandchildren on a regular basis. Generally, grandparents may petition the court to obtain visitation. Grandparent visitation may be included as part of the divorce order.

Child Custody

There are two main types of custody in Mooresville. These include physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where a child lives and legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child. Child custody is most often awarded to one or both parents. However, the child’s parent can give consent of release. Consent of release allows you to obtain health care for the child.

If you want to enroll the child in school you will need to take some legal steps to be able to do so. The law only allows a grandparent to enroll a grandchild in school under certain circumstances. For example, the parent is unable to care for the child due to incarceration or serious illness, the parent is mentally unable to care for the child, the parent abandoned the child, the parent neglected or abused the child, or the home where the child was living was destroyed due to a natural disaster. The parent needs to give written consent whenever possible. If the parent can not or will not give consent, the situation will be slightly more difficult. Regardless of consent, you will most likely require assistance from a Mooresville qualified family law attorney.

Health Care

The health of your grandchildren is of utmost importance. If your grandchildren are living with you it is necessary to obtain authorization from the parent to provide medical care. Without consent the law does not allow you to get routine medical treatment for the child unless it is a life-threatening emergency. The parent that has physical custody of the child must sign an Authorization to Consent to Health Care for Minor. This document specifies the name of the grandparent that is being authorized to provide medical care for the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is provided through a court order. A grandparent may petition the court for legal custody, which will enable him or her to make important decisions for the child such as those involving education. The parent will usually still retain parental rights except in cases in which he or she is unfit. The parent may voluntarily agree to legal custody by the grandparent. If the parent does not agree, the grandparent will need to prove that the parent is unfit.

Legal custody cases can take months to resolve in court. In the meantime, if you feel that your grandchild is in danger or is being harmed, it is important to take immediate action. Contact the police and Child Protective Services. They will evaluate the situation and remove the child if they find that the child is in a harmful situation. This documentation can be helpful later in proving a child custody case in court, if necessary.

The courts will also do everything possible to protect a child and will make decisions that are in their best interest. If you are a grandparent with concerns about the welfare of your grandchildren, do not delay. It is best to do what is needed to ensure the safety of the child. Contact our highly skilled legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to get answers to your questions and learn more about your options.