When Pennsylvanians talk about child custody battles, they are usually mainly referring to two people: the parents. As society changes with each passing year and decade, though, custody cases have increasingly become the concern of grandparents who have often decided to take primary care of their grandchildren when their own children cannot for various reasons.
Across the country now, an estimated 7.8 million children live with close relatives. This means many grandparents have used their grandparents' rights to obtain custody of their grandchildren. Most of these cases involve parents who have been deemed unfit or incapable of raising their own children.
still, some grandparents do not have actual legal custody of their grandchildren but still raise them. One retired grandmother is now caring for her 6-year-old granddaughter, largely because the child's mother is a commercial truck driver and spends most of her time traveling. The challenge in this grandmother's situation is getting insurance for the granddaughter, a task made difficult because the grandparent does not have legal custody.
Regardless of the challenges, taking care of grandchildren seems to be highly rewarding for grandparents. In the case of the retired grandmother, this was her second shot at being a parental figure but the first time she could do it full-time because she was working two jobs when she was raising her own kids, which limited the time she could spend with them.
Due to the complexities of raising a grandchild without custody, grandparents should consider exercising their grandparents' rights to seek and possibly obtain legal custody. They can seek help from a family law attorney who can navigate the judicial system and find the best possible solution for their specific cases. In the end, the children will benefit by staying out of foster homes and having parental figures in their lives.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Raising grandchildren challenging, rewarding," John Ramsey, Feb. 12, 2014