Grandparent Custody

Although becoming a grandparent can be a blessing, it can also bring a great deal of stress and strain to a relationship. Grandparents and parents do not always agree on how frequently the grandparents should be able to spend time with their grandchildren. Other times, grandparents do not necessarily approve of how parents are raising the grandchildren. These are typically not the types of disputes in which the court will get involved; however, in certain, more extreme situations, it is appropriate for grandparents to involve the legal system in order to ensure the safety and well-being of their grandchildren. If you find yourself in one of these situations, Cognetti & Associates can help you understand your options regarding grandparent custody.

Can I get partial custody of my grandchildren?

There are four situations in which the courts will allow a grandparent to seek partial custody of a grandchild:

  1. When the parent of the child is deceased;
  2. When the child's parents have been separated for at least six months;
  3. When the child's parents have filed for divorce; or
  4. When the child has resided with the grandparent for at least 12 months and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months.

Ultimately, the court will determine whether or not the grandparents are entitled to partial custody based on the "best interests of the child" standard. These "best interests" include the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being of the child and whether or not the grandparent custody arrangement would interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Is it possible to get primary legal or physical custody of my grandchildren?

An award of primary legal or physical custody of a grandchild is an extreme remedy; accordingly, a grandparent may only file for primary legal or physical custody under very limited circumstances. The requirements for a grandparent to be awarded primary legal or physical custody are as follows:

  1. The grandparent's relationship with the child began with parental consent or by court order; and
  2. The grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child, and either:
    • The child has been determined to be a dependent child;
    • The child is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, or incapacity; or
    • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 months and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months.

Additionally, as with partial custody, the court will consider whether granting primary custody is in the best interest of the child and whether it will interfere with the parent/child relationship.