Child custody issues for parents and grandparents to consider

In today's economy many families are struggling to make ends meet, and parents may have to travel far, including to other states, for jobs. In such cases, extended family, such as a child's grandparents, may end up caring for the child while the parent is away on a work trip for days, weeks or even months.

Florida parents and grandparents may not know that when children are being cared for by another individual other than the child's parents, such as a grandparent, the grandparent has very limited rights. In temporary situations, a parent who is leaving their child with a grandparent may want to consider giving the grandparent power of attorney in the event of a medical emergency. Furthermore, in situations where a parent is seeking treatment for substance abuse, it may be beneficial for grandparents to have legal guardianship or custody of the child. Such an arrangement can be temporary and only last until the parent is able to take care of the child again. A guardian can only be appointed by the court.

In one case discussed in a recent news article, a parent secured a job in Florida and moved here with their child. However, the child disliked the change, and the move negatively impacted the child's performance in school and behavior. Thus, the parent took the child back to reside with grandparents, who were granted guardianship.

In addition to such temporary situations, there are times when the biological parents, either due to incarceration, drug abuse, aggressive tendencies, child abuse or neglect, may be unable to care for their child. In the best interest of the child, a court may terminate a parent's parental rights. In such cases, a family member or grandparent may be able to get custody of the child. However, generally the burden of proof for a grandparent to get custody of is very high, and a compelling argument must be made.

Source: American News Report, "Child Custody Not Limited to Divorce," April 2, 2014

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