Taking Care of Your Grandchildren: Custody, Adoption and Guardianship
If your adult children don’t have the capacity to care for their minor children, you may be contemplating asking the court to give you legal responsibility and rights to raise your grandchildren.
One option is to seek custody of your grandchildren, so that they will legally reside with you. You can obtain custody if the parents voluntarily grant it, or you can petition the court to give you custody. In custody arrangements, the child’s parents still retain some rights regarding the child, including a right to visitation. In addition, grandparents can ask the court to order payment of child support.
Another option is adoption. To legally adopt your grandchildren, you must obtain voluntary or involuntary termination of all parental rights from both parents. The parents will have no right to visitation, but you will not be able to seek child support either.
A third option is guardianship. Guardianship is closer to custody than adoption, and is typically granted when the court determines that the existing parent or legal guardian lacks capacity to take care of and provide for the child. As the guardian of your grandchild, you are charged with providing adequate care, and may also have responsibility for managing any assets of the child. With a guardianship, even though the parents have relinquished most rights, they may still have the right to see their children. In most instances, a guardianship does not allow you to seek child support.
To become the legal guardian of your grandchild, you must file a petition with the court seeking to be appointed guardian. As a general rule, you must state the specific reasons why the parents are not capable of meeting the child’s needs. Ideally, the parents will recognize their inability to care for their children and acknowledge such to the court. If they don’t, you may have to participate in hearings to determine the fitness of the parents.
Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey
At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.
Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.