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Grandparents and custody rights: are 3 generation homes the norm?

According to a 2009 Pew Research survey, 39 percent of grandparents aged 65 or older had assisted in the care of their grandchildren in the past year. Fifty percent of those grandparents had given money to their children over that same period and over 30 percent had helped their children with housework, running errands and repairs. The survey also found 29 percent of grandparents consider a family's togetherness to be a top priority and that grandparents put a high value on spending time with their grandkids. Many Texas grandparents may not be surprised by these numbers.

In cases where a grandparent provides primary care for a grandchild, these grandparents may want to consult with a family law attorney who specializes in grandparents' rights in order to learn about legal options for ensuring their rights are protected now and in the future.

In today's world, more and more households include one or both grandparents living with their children and grandchildren. The number of children being raised entirely by a grandparent is also rising. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, 7 percent of children under the age of 18 live in a home with a grandparent as head of the household. This is a "substantial increase" from the previous ten years. A number of factors may be contributing to this change, including substance abuse, mental illness and parents being sent to prison.

The different types of childcare arrangements grandparents might want to consider, include temporary custody, guardianship, dependency and adoption. Each offers a different level of protection for both the children and the grandparents. For example, guardianship provides the grandparent the right to be involved in legal decisions surrounding the children without the parent or parents having to permanently give up their parental rights.

Adoption provides for a permanent custody arrangement, however requires both parents to have their parental rights revoked. When parents divorce, all too often a grandparent's relationship with the child is adversely affected. If a son or daughter-in-law is awarded primary custody, the grandparent's visitation and involvement in their grandchildren's lives could be limited or cut off completely. Grandparents do have rights, and when those rights are threatened they may wish to seek the services of a family law attorney in order to enforce their rights.

Source: EmpowHER, "Homes with Three Generations are Becoming More Typical," July 23, 2012

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