Grandparents play an important role in a child’s life and there may be circumstances when they want to pursue visitation or custody of their grandchild.
Sometimes, grandparents pursue this option because the child has been abused or neglected, the child’s parent has passed away or has an illness or there is some other reason the parent cannot care for the child.
The grandparent may want to ask the court for physical and/or legal custody or visitation and it is helpful to understand what those arrangements mean. Physical custody means that the child lives with the grandparent and the grandparent takes care of the child, which is ordered by the court.
Legal custody means that the grandparent can make major decisions for the child like school, religion and medical choices. This type of custody is also ordered by the court. Custody does not terminate the parents’ rights, however.
Visitation means that the grandparent can see the child, but it must be under the supervision of a legal custodian.
The court will consider custody and visitation with the best interests of the child in mind.
Each situation is different, but usually the court will look at factors like quality of the relationship between the child and the person seeking custody, their backgrounds, education and employment, the child’s school performance history and extracurricular activities and the present physical, emotional and mental health of the child. Depending on the age of the child, the court may also consider the child’s preferences regarding custody.
An experienced attorney can help grandparents who are interested in pursuing custody or visitation and answer their questions.