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Can Grandparents Obtain Custody of Grandchildren in a Divorce?

Going through a divorce is never an easy time. This is especially true for parents trying to meet the needs of their children while at the same time reaching a reasonable agreement with their spouse. The divorce process affects many, including extended family members. A post-divorce life might be challenging for children, and in order to meet their best interests, other family members might step up. In some cases grandparents assert the rights afforded to them to meet the needs and interests of his or her grandchildren.

Can grandparents obtain custody of grandchildren in a divorce? In matters where it is determined that a parent or both parents are unsuitable to maintain custody after dissolution, a grandparent or grandparents may seek legal and physical custody of their grandchildren.

How can grandparents obtain custody of their grandchild or grandchildren? Through a power of attorney, a residential grandparent can gain legal care and authority of his or her grandchild. This legal document allows the parent, guardian or custodian of the child to grant the rights and responsibilities of the child to the child's grandparent. However, a power of attorney does not affect the rights of the parent, guardian or custodian of the child in future proceedings concerning child custody or the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.

Grandparents' rights, such as obtaining the power of attorney for a grandchild, are helpful for meeting the needs of a child during a complex divorce or post-divorce situation. Such a step also provides grandparents with the ability to make decisions regarding school, medical treatment and other educational programs and extracurricular activities. Granting these rights help make the situation and transition much easier for the child.

While it is often up to the discretion of the court and the details and factors of the situation, grandparents do have rights regarding grandchildren. It is important to learn more about what options are available regarding custody and other rights such as visitation of grandchildren in the event of a divorce.

Source:, "3109.52 Power of attorney for residential grandparent," accessed June 1, 2015

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