Can Grandparents Get Custody in California?
Grandparents are frequently the primary caregivers for their grandchildren for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the children’s parents may be deceased and the grandparents are the children’s closest relatives. In others, the parents may not be able to properly care for their children, while the grandparents can offer a stable, loving home. Whatever the reason, grandparents often play an outsized role in their grandchildren’s upbringing, but certain legal formalities must be satisfied before such an arrangement can become official. If you are considering seeking child custody of your grandchildren, an attorney at a Stockton child custody law firm can assist you.
When Can Grandparents Seek Custody?
The term “grandparent custody” is somewhat of a misnomer. When a person other than a child’s parents has custody of the child, the arrangement is referred to as a “guardianship.” In a guardianship relationship, the legal guardian has full physical and legal custody of the child and is responsible for the child’s person or finances (or both) on the same basis as the child’s parents. Grandparents may seek custody at any time, but generally do so when one or both of the child’s parents:
- Have mental or physical illnesses
- Are in the military and must serve overseas
- Are undergoing rehab treatment
- Are going to jail
- Have a drug or alcohol abuse problem
- Have a history of being abusive
Grandparents may petition the court for guardianship of the child’s person or estate (or both). Guardianship of the person makes the guardian responsible for the child’s food, clothing, and shelter; safety and protection; physical and emotional growth; medical and dental care; and education. Guardianship of the estate obligates the guardian to manage the child’s money, property, and investments.
Determining Whether a Guardian Should Be Appointed
When determining whether a guardian should be appointed, courts are guided by the best interest of the child. In most cases, the court will appoint a court investigator who will interview the potential guardian, the child’s parents (if they are available), and the child, and then deliver a recommendation to the judge. The court will then schedule a hearing to review the case and determine whether guardianship should be established. If the child’s parents agree to the guardianship, the judge may order the guardianship if it is necessary or appropriate. If one or both of the child’s parents object to the guardianship, the judge will order it only if (1) staying with one or both of the parents will be detrimental to the child, and (2) a guardianship would be in the best interest of the child.
Contact an Attorney at a Stockton Child Custody Law Firm for More Information
Petitioning for guardianship as a grandparent can be a long and, at times, confusing process. If you are considering petitioning a court for guardianship of your grandchildren, you should consider speaking to an attorney who can guide you through the process and maximize your chances of success. To get started, please contact an attorney at the Stockton child custody law firm of McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.