There are a large number of circumstances under which grandparents may be compelled to raise their grandchildren. The transition to becoming full-time caregivers is gradual in some instances, and there are other times when something like a family emergency requires grandparents to step up on behalf of their grandchildren’s parents. Whatever the situation may be, grandparents in the state of New Jersey should be familiar with their child custody rights, as well as some of the issues that are linked to grandparent child custody arrangements.
According to About Parenting, family law guidelines do not always ensure the child custody rights of grandparents. In fact, parental rights take precedence in most cases, unless the court determines that one or both parents are unable or unfit to care for their children. Evidence of substance abuse and/or child neglect or maltreatment can warrant the consideration of other child custody arrangements. Grandparents may also be considered to be awarded child custody in cases where parents voluntarily relinquish their rights.
In the event that grandparents become the primary caregivers for a child or children, helpguide.org explains that there are several child custody options available to them. For instance, establishing power of attorney over a child can give grandparents the legal authority to make a number of important decisions on behalf of their grandchild without affecting the legal rights of the child’s parents. Establishing a legal child custody order, on the other hand, relinquishes the rights of the child’s parents and guarantees full authority to the child’s grandparents. In the event that the child’s parents illustrate that they are able and/or to regain custody at any point in the future, the grandparents may be obligated to forfeit their custody rights.