When grandparents seek custody of their grandchildren

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Family Law

Grandparents in Ohio may petition the court for legal custody of their grandchildren under certain circumstances. However, this is not a simple process. Ohio family laws acknowledge the importance of biological parents providing for their children’s care and the courts usually try to keep nuclear families together whenever possible.

There are, however, some instances when a parent/parents may be unable or unfit to raise their children. Perhaps one is an addict and the other has been incarcerated. In circumstances such as these, the children’s grandparents have the option to petition the court for custody.

Grandparents also have the opportunity to seek custody in the event that a child’s parent(s) die or surrender their parental rights willingly. These cases tend to be more straightforward than those in which a parent/parents must be deemed unfit.

Declaring parents unfit for custody

In Ohio, grandparents who request custody rights for their grandchildren must first demonstrate their standing. This means that in addition to fulfilling the requirements set out by Ohio law, which include having a pre-existing relationship with the grandchild, they need to provide evidence that it would be in the best interests of the child to be raised by their grandparents.

Awarding custody to grandparents in Ohio generally means that a judge must declare the parent(s) unfit or unsuitable, except in the scenarios noted above.

While the matter is being processed by the court (or in instances of temporary concern, such as a parent who will be released from state custody within a few years and is likely to be a fit parent at that time), grandparents may request to have the children temporarily reside with them by filing a petition for temporary custody of the children.

The road to obtaining custody of grandchildren is difficult, but not necessarily impossible. Therefore, it is important that those grandparents who want to seek temporary or permanent custody of their grandbabies seek legal assistance and support as proactively as they can.