Can a Grandparent Have Joint Custody with a Parent?

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Summer Masterson-Goethals

Summer Masterson-Goethals
Consumer and family lawyer, former legal aid attorney and Missouri Bar Leadership Academy member, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree.

Summer Masterson Goethals

How Can a Grandparent Get Custody of a Child?

In certain family situations, you may be interested in exploring custody for grandparents. The process can be difficult since courts often prioritize the child’s mother or father having custody. However, other family members may obtain sole or shared custody too, especially if the parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child.

If both parents have parental rights, they must agree to a Consent Court Order. The assistance of a trusted child custody lawyer can be helpful in these circumstances so that everyone’s rights are protected and all understand what they are agreeing to. Parents have a legal right to their children’s custody, care, and control. In many cases, though, a grandparent takes up the primary caregiver role for their grandchild.

The child’s fundamental right to a safe home placement is of paramount importance. To obtain joint custody (or sole custody), the grandparents must submit legal proof demonstrating that they are better providers for their grandchildren than the parents (in the legal sense). That’s a hard standard to clear, especially if one parent, or both parents, are opposed to the petition.

How Can a Grandparent Get Custody of a Child section

The court will decide whether the children should live with their parents or grandparents. A grandparent’s participation as a parent in their grandchild’s life does not grant them legal custody, care, or control of their grandchild. Child custody determinations will impact the rest of the child’s life, so it is important to consider the long-term effects of any arrangement for the child.


How Can a Grandparent Have Joint Custody With Parents?

Grandparents seeking custody of grandchildren have an uphill battle ahead. Grandparents can petition the court for a child arrangements order or a particular guardianship order if the kid’s parents are still alive. The grandmother would be assigned parental responsibility for the child if these orders were followed.

If you believe you need to file for custody of your grandkids, you should start preparing your case at once. Keep track of when your grandchild is under your care on a calendar. Even if the time is not continuous, it is necessary to demonstrate that you are the child’s primary or frequent caregiver.

Obtain written statements or testimonies from professionals who interact with you as the primary caretaker for the child. This could include the child’s teachers and school professionals and doctors, counselors, and clergy. Supervisors of extracurricular activities your grandchild participates in, such as dance class, scouting, sports, music classes, or any other activity, should be included. A child custody law firm can also help you in these endeavors.

What Are Visitation Rights for Grandparents?

Grandparent visitation rights vary substantially from state to state. Grandparents who want to keep or reestablish visitation rights with their grandkids are encouraged to find a solution without going to court.

Some courts will wait until all non-legal options have been explored before proceeding. Grandparents can try to talk to their children’s parents about visitation rights on their own, or they can hire a neutral third-party mediator. If the problem isn’t resolved, grandparents might ask the court for a visitation order.

What Are Visitation Rights for Grandparents

Reasons Why Grandparents Can File for Custody of a Grandchild


In cases where parents cannot care for their children, grandparents may obtain custody of their grandkids. Grandparents can accomplish this by getting temporary or permanent custody, commonly referred to as special or legal guardianship. Grandparents might also choose to adopt their grandkids, and a child custody attorney can help them in these procedures.

This situation usually arises when a child’s parents are:

  • Unfit to care for their children
  • The child’s parents want grandparents to have custody of their child
  • The child is subjected to abuse or neglect at home
  • A parent has a mental illness, or
  • A parent is addicted to drugs.

If a child’s parent is incarcerated or the child is placed in foster care, grandparents may step in to take temporary legal and physical custody.

When making a decision involving children, the courts will always examine the child’s well-being, and often, the courts will consider the child’s best interest. In some cases, grandparents may be the ideal people awarded custody of their grandchildren.

Can Parents Give Custody to Grandparents?

The law on grandparents’ rights has been rapidly changing, but can the parents agree to give grandparent custody without a court order? While it is rare, some parents may provide a grandparent child custody of their own volition.

Both biological parents can award temporary custody to a grandparent in their kid’s best interests. A grandmother with standing can also be granted temporary custody if there is a convincing showing that both parents have relinquished or abrogated parental rights or are unsuitable. Suppose the transfer of custody of a child to a grandparent lasts longer than a year. In that case, it may become a permanent order necessitating a change in circumstances to reclaim custody of the kid from the grandparent.

Before granting grandparent custody, in several states, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • One or both of the parents are no longer alive
  • Alcohol or drug addiction issues
  • Crime, mental illness
  • Neglect or abuse
  • Unmarried parents or divorced parents
Can Parents Give Custody to Grandparents

What Are the Legal Requirements for Grandparents to Get Joint Custody with Parents?

Though grandparents have child custody rights, they’re limited compared to the rights of both parents. A grandparent can be awarded either legal custody, physical custody, or both. The statutes governing child custody are typically less specific than those governing grandparent visitation.

Before considering whether it is advisable to grant custody to grandparents, courts must first consider the parent or parents’ connection with the child. If both parents are deceased, several states specifically regard grandparents as custodians. In most places, courts will presume that the child’s parents should keep custody if one or both parents are living.

What Are the Legal Requirements for Grandparents to Get Joint Custody with Parents

Why You May Want to Consider a Child Custody Attorney

To convince the court that the child should be put with them, grandparents must generally show that the parent is unfit to care for them. Even if the grandparent-grandchild relationship is strong, it is often difficult for a grandparent to get custody of a grandchild against the parents’ wishes.