You didn't anticipate that it would work out this way. When you were younger, you envisioned your retirement years would be taken up with traveling to distant lands with your spouse, or perhaps going golfing or gambling junkets. Maybe your spouse wanted to take a few college courses while you took a no-stress part-time job to stay out of her hair.
Yet, due to the collateral damage from the opioid crisis, you find yourself saddled with the custody of three of your grandchildren. There's no doubt that you love them and will always be there for them — but you certainly didn't expect to take over their care and custody 24/7 in your mid-to-late 60s.
Grandparents in parental roles on the rise
As of 2015, 50 million grandparents were projected to head American households, with nearly 2 million more swelling their ranks annually. These older Americans have stepped up to the plate when their children failed to honor their own parental commitments to their offspring, whether from addiction, imprisonment or some combination thereof.
Gone are the lazy weekends spent antiquing or gardening together and welcome to the adrenaline rush of grade school soccer games and ballet recitals. Instead of playing the role of benevolent grandma and grandpa, you've been forced to be disciplinarians to traumatized children whose young eyes have already seen far too much pain.
You may even still be working, as 60 percent of grandparents in the United States are still working at least part-time and 23 percent are small-business owners. So you add juggling childcare responsibilities to your already packed weekly schedules.
Is your custody arrangement formal or informal?
You might have gotten the call to come pick up the kids after an overnight drug arrest landed your son or daughter in police custody. Even worse, you may have been notified by the coroner after your adult child fatally overdosed with the kids in the house.
Either way, it's likely you weren't prepared legally or otherwise to step in and assume custody of your grandchildren. Still, you did what was best and have been making do, trying to hold it together with love and Band-Aids.
But unfortunately, that's insufficient for most legal purposes. You will need to formalize your child custody arrangement in order to enroll the kids in school and arrange for their medical treatment, among other things.
What if my son or daughter won't sign consent?
If you were called out of the blue to take custody of your grandkids, your son or daughter is not in a good place — physically, mentally or otherwise. That allows you to take certain legal steps that you would otherwise have to achieve through other channels. Don't hesitate to get all of your legal ducks in line and obtain legal custody of your grandchildren.