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Child custody: When grandparents raise their grandchildren

| Oct 23, 2020 | Child Custody |

Grandparents have a special bond with their grandchildren. In some cases, however, grandparents in Virginia may find that they’re more like parents to their grandkids and are actually raising them. Whatever the circumstances, grandparents in this situation may be wondering if child custody is an option for them.

There are a few legal options for grandparents in this circumstance. Grandparents who are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren who live with them are said to have physical custody when the parent(s) or guardian has asked the grandparents to care for the children temporarily. In this case, professionals suggest grandparents should look into getting a power of attorney giving them legal authority to speak to the children’s needs — including health care and what to do in an emergency should the children’s parents be unreachable.

Grandparents can also choose to become foster parents to their grandchildren should the children be removed from their parents’ home and care. Often known as kinship care, grandparents in this instance have physical custody while the state has legal custody and as such the state has the authority to make decisions regarding the children’s welfare. Grandparents are treated like any other foster family and will receive visits from Child Protective Services.

Grandparents who are seeking legal and physical child custody of their grandchildren can ask the court to issue an order to that effect. Speaking to a Virginia lawyer about what is involved in the process may be the first step. Legal and physical custody is often a precursor to adoption.