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Can grandparents get custody instead of parents?

You do not feel like your grandchildren are being brought up in an ideal living situation. You want to take custody away from your own child and their spouse so that you can raise the grandkids. You feel like it is very clear that doing so would put their best interests first.

Will the court agree? Do you have a right to seek custody? Will it be possible to get the kids out of that living situation and into your home?

It may be, but be warned: It can become very difficult. Courts generally prefer to give parents custody rights if at all possible. A grandparent can start a third-party claim for custody, but he or she does not outrank the parents in the eyes of the court.

Poor living conditions

What if your grandchildren have poor living conditions? Maybe their parents have no money and no jobs. They waste what they do have on unneeded purchases. The children's home is dirty and run down. They have secondhand clothes. You worry that they may not even have enough to eat.

Again, you may be able to get custody, but it's unlikely in a situation like this. Financial problems typically are not enough for the court to separate parents and their children. They value that relationship too much to do so.

Abuse and neglect

The main reasons that grandparents can get custody are when the children get neglected or abused. This puts them in very real physical danger. The court does want to protect them. Grandparents may be a natural fit, rather than taking the kids and placing them in a foster home or some similar situation.

What types of situations qualify? They may include:

  • Physical abuse: One or both of the parents physically injure the children intentionally, perhaps as a result of mental conditions, emotional issues, drug problems or something similar.
  • General neglect: The children do not get the basic things that they need to survive because their parents do not care for them. While not directly abusive, the parents put them in danger.
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation: Like physical abuse, the children suffer harm and criminal acts.
  • Emotional abuse: This one can be a bit harder to pin down, as proving emotional abuse may become difficult. But it's important to remember that not all abuse is physical.
  • Abandonment: This is when the parents directly abandon the kids and they may pass into state care. Grandparents then have a good chance of seeking custody to give them a stable living situation.

Again, this situation gets complicated and it's often difficult for grandparents to get custody, so it is incredibly important for you to know what legal steps to take.

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The Springer Law Firm

21815 Oak Park Trails Drive
Katy, TX 77450

Phone: 281-616-7540
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