You’re finally a grandparent. You may have thought about it, dreamed about it, or dreaded it for years, but it’s finally happened. You’re not just mom or dad anymore. Now you’re Gramps or Memaw, Pop or Nana, or some other distinguished name. The plan was to babysit and spoil the grandchildren and then give them back, spoiled rotten to the core. But, something went wrong along the way.
Now your grandchildren’s parent or parents aren’t what’s best for some reason. Now you need to get custody of or visitation with your grandchildren because their parents aren’t behaving with their best interests in mind. Now you need legal help. Let’s start with custody.
Can you get custody of your grandchildren? If an attorney tells you an absolute yes, you might think twice about it. It’s never a yes, but it’s usually a maybe. Getting custody of children when you’re a grandparent isn’t easy, but it’s possible under the right circumstances. It wouldn’t be reasonable to think that a Judge or our legal system would let anyone, including grandparents, take children away from perfectly good parents.
But if the parents aren’t so good, the situation changes. For the grandparent to get custody, he or she must first show that leaving the children in the care of the parent or parents would significantly impair the children’s physical health or emotional development. This is all fact-based litigation.
If the children are with bad parents and the evidence shows it, then the grandparents may very well get custody. If the parents are fine, but perhaps have a different style of parenting than the grandparents tend to agree with, then the burden becomes much greater.
Learn more about getting custody of your grandchild(ren).
Logically, most people think that the burden for getting visitation is not as difficult as that for getting custody. In fact, the burden is every bit as difficult and, in many circumstances, even more. As we think about it, it makes sense. If we are going to effect the rights of a parent at all, we have to first show that the parent is presenting some kind of harm to the child and if that’s happening, shouldn’t the grandparents be trying to get custody and not just visitation?
Learn more about the requirements for visitation with your grandchild(ren).
You have won the case and now have either custody of or visitation with your grandchildren. But what happens if the parent or parents aren’t following what the Court has rendered? The method of relief is called a Motion for Enforcement. It is a pleading filed with the Court which sets out in detail each way that the parent(s) have violated the Judge’s Order.
The Court then has the ability to grant a variety of remedies. It can order the parents to pay attorney fees, pay fines, post a bond to secure their performance in the future, grant make-up visitation, or find the parents in contempt, which can mean jail time. The last one – contempt – is more technical than the rest because incarceration is a possibility, but it’s also the remedy with the sharpest teeth.
Learn what the law requires you to do to enforce custody or court ordered visitation with your grandchild(ren).