When Should Grandparents Pursue Custody of a Grandchild?


As a parent, you hope your children will be able to raise kids of their own one day. While many do so successfully, there will be times when parents are unable to care for their children in the way they deserve. And many grandparents take it upon themselves to step in and take custody of their grandchildren so they can live happy and healthy lives. But when should you start working with a Missouri family law attorney to establish custody of your grandchildren? These are a few common situations when pursuing custody could be a good idea.

The Child’s Parents Are Unfit

Some people are not equipped or able to care for a child in the way the child deserves and if the situation is severe enough, the court may deem them unfit for the task. So, what types of behaviors can result in the court deeming the parents unfit? Here are a few of the most common:

  • Drug abuse
  • Neglect of the child
  • Severe alcoholism
  • Physical or emotional abuse of the child 
  • Abandonment

Any of these situations will signal to the court that the child would be better off in the care of another adult. If the grandparents are not able to care for them, the state may place the child in foster care. But if the grandparents are able to care for their grandchild and want to do so, they can pursue custody.

One or Both Parents Are Deceased

Losing a child is difficult, but when a child passes away and leaves their own child behind, grandparents may want to step in and take custody of their grandchild. Doing so can reduce the strain the child experiences after losing their parent or parents and can help the grandparents honor the memory of their children. 

If you’re already named as a guardian in your child’s will, the process will be settled in accordance with your child’s will. But if you’re not listed as a guardian or your child didn’t leave clear instructions about who would take custody of their child, you may need to petition for custody with the court.

The Parents Are Unable to Financially Support a Child

During times of immense financial strain, parents may not be able to afford to care for their children or provide for their basic needs. If this is the case, grandparents may become legal guardians of their grandchildren, thereby maintaining custody of them. If your children are struggling and are interested in letting you become the legal guardian of your grandchild, the sooner you can speak with a Missouri family law attorney, the better.

The Parents Don’t Want Custody of the Child

Not all parents want to be parents and others simply aren’t ready to take on the responsibility. While they may put their child up for adoption, it’s possible for grandparents to legally adopt and take custody of their grandchild. This process can take time and you’ll need to prove to the court that you have the means and ability to care for the child for the long term. Your Missouri family law attorney can help you navigate the process and present your best case to the court.

Speak With a Missouri Family Law Attorney Today

If you’re interested in assuming custody of your grandchild, the sooner you speak with an attorney, the easier it will be to navigate the process. At Columbia Family Law, our team will help you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.