Understanding Grandparent Custody Durham NC Seniors Face

By Amy Morgan

When people have children most assume those children will grow up, find a partner, settle down and start a family of their own. When individuals think about having grandchildren, they probably envision visiting them and taking them out for treats. Then the grandparents go back home having enjoyed the time spent. Unfortunately in Durham, NC and elsewhere, there seems to be a growing trend where grandparents end up raising their grandchildren. In Durham, NC when they seek official grandparent custody Durham NC seniors sometimes find it confusing and frustrating however.

Parenting styles vary from household to household, and sometimes the older generation does not approve of the way their children are handling the day to day challenges of parenting. They may object strongly about everything from what the grandchildren eat to how they are disciplined. There is rarely anything they can do about it however, because removing children from the parental home is something social services and courts try to avoid.

You might assume drug abuse on the parent's part would be enough to separate children from their parents, but in many states that is not true. In some states a drug addicted mother of an unborn child can be charged with child abuse, but once the child is born, involving the child in drug activity may be the only thing in this situation that constitutes abuse.

The most common way grandparents end up raising their grandchildren is by parents giving over authority. Sometimes the mother or father will drop off their children with the grandparents and disappear. Other times children spend more and more time with their grandparents until they are actually living with them full time.

It may be that the parent is forced out their children's lives because of death or incarceration. If this happens, the grandparents can seek formal guardianship or remain as the primary caregivers through an informal arrangement. There will have to be some papers and forms filled out and filed though to make sure the adults can make educational and medical decisions for the minors.

Grandparents determined to get legal guardianship of their grandchildren often have a difficult time convincing the court they should have custodial care. They have more influence with a judge if they have already taken primary responsibility of the minors because the parents have abandoned their rights, have been proven abusive, or have been convicted of a serious crime. Grandparents will also have to prove granting them guardianship is in the best interest of the children.

Seniors involved in these types of situations should clearly understand that guardianship is not the same as adoption. If the parent's circumstances change, and they can prove they have the means and the ability to safely raise their children, the courts can, and often do, return the minors to the parental home and terminate the custodial rights of the grandparents.

Tensions can run high when it comes to how children are being raised and what constitutes a loving and stable home. Grandparents are important to their grandchildren, but they are seldom able to replace parents.

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