Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”)
on Grandparents & Guardian Parents
Patrick McGraw Provides Answers on Grandparents & Guardian Parents
Q: Can Grandparents Receive Custody of Their Grandchild(ren)?
A: While either parent is alive, there is a preference that custody of a child is with the parent. In the event of the death of one of the parents, the other surviving parent has a preference in law for the custody of a child. When both parents are dead, the court prefers to give custody to a blood relative, providing a grandparent with a viable opportunity to show the court that it is better for the child to be in their custody. Courts will consider the age, health, and financial ability of the grandparent(s) to support and care for a child.
Q: Can Non-Biological Parents Receive Custody?
A: Courts, in the past, have usually awarded custody to someone other than the biological or natural parents in cases of abandonment or chronic abuse. This is starting to change. Judges are awarding custody to anyone with an interest in the child—such as stepparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, surrogates—who can introduce evidence on why they would be the better custodians than the natural parent(s). Again, the court’s guiding principle will be the welfare of the child.
Q: What if the Child's Best Interest Does Not Coincide with the Parents' Personal Desires?
A: It may be in the best interest of the child to remain in the home with the people they lived with for their whole life, rather than be uprooted after the loss of a parent. If the living biological parent challenges the issue and desires custody, the court will have a difficult decision to make. If the parent agrees to the change of custody, the court should most likely grant it.