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What are the custody options available for grandparents?

Many Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, residents agree that grandparents play an important role in helping to guide and develop younger generations. Some readers may even recall how they often visited their own grandparents during vacation or when time permitted. Grandparents can sometimes become parents to their grandchildren under special circumstances such as a divorce or separation. Readers, especially grandparents, need to understand that they have rights that can be used in special cases to ensure that their grandchildren will grow and be loved in a nurturing environment.

There are four types of custody available for grandparents -- physical custody, legal custody, guardianship and adoption. Physical custody is applicable if the grandparent and the parent have an agreement. This type of custody allows the grandparent to have the custody of the children. However, grandparents cannot make important decisions for the child unless they have a power of attorney. With legal custody, grandparents can make important decisions for the children, including healthcare. Such custody is also applicable in cases where the parent and the grandparent had an agreement. With legal custody the parent can someday regain custody of their children, though it will require a legal ruling.

Grandparents who seek a long-term relationship with their grandchildren can become guardians. Guardianship allows grandparents to make major decisions regarding the raising of the children. Under such an agreement, parents can still visit the children and may seek their custody in the future. Adoption, on the other hand, is more complex than the other types of custody. Grandparents will become the legal parent of the child once an adoption has been approved.

Grandparents should understand these rights before they seek any future custody arrangement. They can learn more about their legal options with the help of a qualified attorney.

Source: Helpguide.org, "Grandparents' rights and custody options," Accessed on Jan. 29, 2015

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