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Grandparent custody involves many issues

Child custody poses numerous grandparents' rights issues. The issues associated with grandparent custody may have long-lasting consequences for grandparents and children.

There are times that grandparents may be awarded guardianship or custody, especially of the parents are unable to care for their children. While physical custody may be awarded, grandparents my not have the legal power to make decisions on that child's behalf. Grandparents may have to seek agreement from the child's parents on many parts of the custody arrangement. Formal agreements may help specify each party's responsibilities and rights.

Safety is a primary matter to consider especially if the child was removed from their parents because of domestic violence, abuse or neglect. Child protection agencies may need to become involved when there is serious threat to the child's safety

Parents and grandparents must also decide visitation arrangements. These include whether the parents should have regular visitation rights and whether parental visitation is in the children's best interest.

Finances and providing for the children's needs requires planning. Grandparents should determine whether they have sufficient resources and whether they should seek financial assistance from the children's parents.

Education is also important. Grandparents must consider whether they have the legal right to enroll their grandchildren in schools. They also need the children's Social Security numbers and immunization records for school registration.

Finally, grandparents should determine whether they have the right to the children's medical and dental records and if they can provide consent for their treatment. When there is no formal agreement, parents may provide written authorization to grandparents to make medical decisions by executing a release form or completing a statement that includes the caregiver's name, the child's name and birth date and a statement granting the grandparents with authorization to approve treatment.

A lawyer can assist grandparents with determining their legal rights and assuring that the children's rights are protected. An attorney may also draft these agreements and represent the grandparents when it is necessary to seek judicial intervention.

Source: Enid News and Eagle, "Grandparents have many things to consider when raising grandchildren," By Kathy A. Miller, March 5, 2017

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