An Ohio couple, Frank and Martha Hartley, may be denied contact with their grandsons indefinitely if the boys’ former foster parents adopt them, despite having been approved and recommended as foster parents for the boys themselves. The boys have been in foster care for five years, and while they have established a relationship with their foster parents, most states agree that family placements should be given a priority.
The Hartleys’ dilemma is not an unusual one, and unfortunately, many grandparents are left high and dry when it comes to becoming legal guardians or establishing custody of children whose parents are unfit. While many states, including Arizona, prefer to place children with their legal parents if possible, sometimes that option is far from what is best for the child, especially if drug abuse, incarceration, or physical abuse is present.
In many families, grandparents contribute a significant amount of time, energy, and finances towards a child’s upbringing even when the child has an idyllic home life, so courts are warming to the idea of grandparent custody when the child’s parents are unfit for the task.
The easiest way for grandparents to obtain legal custody is if they are already the child’s primary caregiver, and the court is simply formally legalizing a relationship that already exists. The Hartleys face a distinct disadvantage in this regard, as their grandsons have been raised by their foster family for a significant portion of their lives.
If you are currently caring for your grandchild and are concerned about your rights as well as the child’s wellbeing, explore the potential for a non-parental guardianship or custody. Our Phoenix family law attorneys are happy to answer your questions and assist you through the process—call Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 for a complimentary consultation today.