For many grandparents, the only thing that can surpass their love for their children is the love they have for their grandchildren. Nationally, statistics over the last 14 years in particular show evidence that more and more grandparents are responsible for caring for their grandchildren. Currently, 2.9 million grandparents have taken over child-rearing responsibilities from their own children. And, as many Pennsylvanians undoubtedly understand, it can be far more difficult for grandparents for a variety of reasons.
One 62-year-old grandmother in Connecticut is an example of someone facing the challenges of raising grandchildren. She was still working as a nurse when her grandson was born in 1994. He was frail at birth and had considerable medical problems. He was later diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. By the time he was 15, both of his parents had died. Through all his struggles, his grandmother was there for him, and she was eventually granted full custody.
Her story is not an isolated case. More and more circumstances are leading to custody for grandparents. Custody can be the result of parental incarceration, parental drug or alcohol problems or financial trouble. As older citizens, grandparents experience their own financial problems and often medical issues that create challenges that most parents do not face, but raising their grandchildren is worth it because they know they are safe and secure. For some grandparents, it also helps to cover the pain of knowing that their own children were not fit to be parents.
Despite their unconditional love for their grandchildren, grandparents can still encounter a wide variety of hurdles when seeking custody. Besides legal obstacles, grandparents may also face financial problems and residency problems if they live in senior communities. To sort out matters that can affect getting child custody, grandparents should consult with a family law advocate.
Source: My Record Journal, "Special enough to protect, despite all the sacrifices," Mary Ellen Godin, May 11, 2014