Grandparents’ Changing Role in Child Custody

Grandparents' Changing Role in Child Custody

Grandparents’ Changing Role in Child Custody

In child custody cases, courts are usually faced with making decisions that involve access arrangements for both parents. However, in some cases, grandparents end up playing more than a supportive role to the family, and can be considered as primary caregivers with custody granted to them. In these scenarios, the court has usually determined that a child’s natural parents are not suitable for the court to grant custody, opening the door for grandparents to assume more than an access role in the lives of their minor grandchildren.

“Although grandparents cannot be awarded traditional timesharing, in most states, grandparents can, in certain limited situations, be awarded custody of their grandchildren. This would be the case when the child’s parents are deceased, or when factors determine that a grandparent being awarded custody would be better for the interests of the child or children in question,” said Norman Green, Senior Partner at Green & Metcalf of Vero Beach, FL.

Typically, when parents are awarded joint or sole custody, the court encourages access and continued contact with the grandchildren by the grandparents. However, that contact will take place during the access allotted to that particular parent. But when a child’s parents are not given custody, then the existing loving relationship between child and grandparent changes to one of grandparent-as-parent raising their grandchild-as-child. The child may assume they’ll get all the advantages of indulgent grandparents until faced with the same grandparents who are now their disciplinarians.

“In any case when grandparents are awarded custody of their grandchildren, it’s a confusing time for everyone because of the new roles and duties they all have to assume. It may even require the intervention of a family therapist to help the new family unit remain close or come together in order to move forward successfully as a family,” Green said.

Norman A. Green is the founder and a partner of Green & Metcalf - Attorneys At Law. He has over 40 years of experience in the practice fields of criminal defense and family law (divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, modifications of existing orders, prenuptial agreements and alimony cases).

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