Potential child custody issues for grandparents

When many Connecticut residents think of child custody, they may picture two parents going through a divorce. But an increasing number of child custody issues involve grandparents who are raising their grandchildren – the children of their children. What is concerning is that in many of these cases, the grandparents do not have legal custody, which could result in issues down the road.

Ideally, a grandparent should have legal guardianship or custody. Legal guardianship is usually granted for a limited time. This is for a temporary condition, such as a parental relocation or a lengthy trip. Custody is best for a permanent or serious condition, such as circumstances when the parent abuses the child or alcohol or is constantly in trouble with law. The grandparent can make a case for custody in these situations.

Besides custody or guardianship, when parents leave their children with a grandparent or other family member for an extended period of time, parents should make sure the caregiver has power of attorney. This allows the caregiver to make medical decisions or financial in an emergency.

When determining child custody, the courts must consider the best interests of the child. In a perfect world, a child should live with his or her parents, but the child’s safety and welfare comes first and this consideration can lead to important, yet difficult, decisions.

Additionally, courts will look at the relationship between the child and grandparent. A grandparent must be physically, emotionally and financially able to care for the child. Raising a child when a person is in his or her 50s or 60s is not an easy task. Children require an abundance of time, money and energy. These are all important factors to discuss before looking at custody or guardianship options.