In nearly all child custody disputes in Alabama, the court will base its decisions primarily on what is in the best interest of the child. In some cases, this leads to the determination that the child’s grandparents are better suited than the parents to raise a child.
Deciding to raise your grandchild is a life-changing decision. When your heart and mind are open to it, and you truly believe it is the best thing to do, Alabama law supports you in many cases. At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our compassionate Huntsville child custody lawyers have the experience and skills to help you petition for custody of your underage grandchild if the circumstances make this arrangement best for the child.
Can Grandparents Get Custody?
In general, a court will assume that a child is better off living with their biological parents. But a grandparent may be granted custody of a grandchild if neither biological parent is capable of safely raising the child. The court will consider the grandparent’s age, health, and overall ability to take care of the child. If placing the child with their grandparents is in the child’s best interest, the grandparents may be awarded custody. If the child is old enough, the judge may ask their preference.
When Grandparents May Be Awarded Custody of a Grandchild in Alabama
For a grandparent to obtain custody of a grandchild, they must persuade a judge that, in fact, the child’s parents are unfit. The circumstances that may make a court open to such a claim include the following:
- The parents have abandoned the child
- A parent has been diagnosed with an impairing illness
- A parent is known to abuse illicit drugs
- A parent is involved with an abusive partner
- A parent is incarcerated
- One or both parents have neglected or abused the child. If your grandchild is in immediate danger, you should contact police. You may also ask child protective services to initiate a protective action and investigation. You can request that the child be placed in your care if they are removed from the care of their parent or parents.
A grandparent may also petition for custody of a grandchild if both the child’s parents have died.
If the children have already been living with their grandparent(s) for an extended period of time and the grandparent has provided for their care and had actual custody and control of the child, the court may grant formal custody.
Understanding the Grandparents Custody Rights and Responsibilities
If you are granted custody of your grandchild, the child’s biological mother and father are still their legal parents. However, because you have been granted legal custody, the parents no longer have the right to make decisions affecting the child’s life.
With custody, you have the right and responsibility to provide for your grandchild’s education, medical care, religious training, and other aspects of their upbringing. You may enroll them in school and under your health insurance.
If necessary, you may apply for public assistance because of the additional costs of raising a child. For example, Social Security retirement benefits may be extended to grandchildren under 18 who are living with you, or you may apply on behalf of your grandchild for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance available to low-income children.
Legal Assistance for Grandparents Pursuing Child Custody in Alabama
A child custody lawyer with Leigh Daniel Family Law can help you demonstrate to the court that it is in the child’s best interest for you to have custody of your grandchild. We will:
- Ensure the paperwork is filed to keep your child custody case moving forward in the courts.
- Gather evidence indicating that your grandchild’s parent is unfit. This may include public records of arrests and court cases and sworn statements from witnesses, who may testify if needed.
- Obtain medical exams or medical records to indicate your physical and mental fitness to raise a child.
- Prepare you to speak to a judge about:
- Your role in your grandchild’s life and parenting functions you have assumed
- The relationship between your grandchild and their parents
- Your concerns regarding the fitness of your grandchild’s parents
- Present your case in court and rebut or mitigate any assertions or evidence against you.
We will stand by you throughout the custody petition process and provide you with the assistance of our respected, experienced, and knowledgeable child custody attorneys. We can help you build a solid case as to why granting you custody is in the best interests of your grandchild.
Get Legal Advice from Our Child Custody Attorneys: Unveil the Process of Gaining Grandchild Custody
If you have come to the decision that you need to take custody of your grandchild, you may be facing a complicated child custody battle. Alabama courts will award grandparents custody of grandchildren, but it must be in the child’s best interests.
Contact our dedicated Huntsville child custody lawyers today to discuss how our skilled and compassionate team will fight to protect your rights and convince the court that awarding you custody best serves your grandchild. Call now for a consultation: (256) 551-0500!