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Can a grandparent get custody of their grandchild when both parents are still alive? While they may believe they are can best provide for their grandchild, the courts believe keeping the child with one or both parents is still the best option unless both parents no longer wish to take care of the child or if there are other circumstances where neither parent are fit to raise their child.

Situations where the child may be placed with the grandparents:

  • Both parents agree to give custody to the grandparents
  • Parents are both declared unfit
  • There is documented proof of neglect or abuse in the home of the parents
  • One or both parents are mentally ill
  • There is alcohol or drug abuse at the home where the child resides
  • One parent is deemed unfit and the other parent does not want to take the child

The grandparents may not be the only other family members that are trying to get custody of the child. In order for the courts to rule in favor of the grandparents, they must have been a part of the child’s life as a grandparent before attempting to seek custody. In some states, the child must be in the care of the grandparents for at least a year before the court will approve a petition for custody.

As in all custody cases, the court makes its decision considering the best interests of the child.

Can a Grandparent Get Custody After the Custodial Parent Dies?

Upon the death of the custodial parent, the court first goes to the other parent for placement of the child, regardless if that parent has not been a part of the child’s life. The next choice may be a close blood relative. If relatives other than the grandparents also want custody of the child, the court will choose the individual that will represent the child’s best interests.

The court looks favorably upon the grandparent’s if:

  • The parents created a will and name the grandparents as guardians of their child
  • The child can voice that they want to live with their grandparents
  • The custodial parent and the grandchild were already living with the grandparents. The may rule that continuing this relationship could offer the grandchild more continuity and stability

Other factors the court considers when determining if the grandparents can take care of their grandchild are:

  • The health of the grandparents
  • The financial stability of the grandparents
  • The age of the grandparents

Contact a Family Law Attorney

The laws concerning grandparent’s custody of their grandchild vary by state. If you feel you can offer your grandchild a better life and are seeking to obtain custody, enlist the assistance of an experienced family law attorney familiar with custody laws. Your lawyer can hear the particulars of your situation and explain how the court process works and what you can expect. Call a lawyer for a consultation to determine how you can work together to offer a solution that is in the best interest of your grandchild.