Table of Contents:
- Child Custody Laws for Grandparents in Illinois
- Michigan Laws on Child Custody for Grandchildren
- Tennessee Grandparent Child Custody Laws
Petition for Custody
Absent an agreement from the parent or parents of a child, a grandparent must file a petition for child custody. The petition is filed in the court in the county where the child currently resides. The clerk of the court likely maintains a petition for child custody utilized for this purpose. There are attorneys who specialize in child custody issues available to assist you as well.
Pursuing child custody for grandparents in Illinois involves a concept known as "legal standing." Standing is the legal ability of a grandparent to seek child custody in the first instance. Not every grandparent in all situations possesses legal standing to pursue child custody. Legal standing exists for a grandparent to seek child custody if neither parent maintains physical custody, if the parent serving as the primary caretaker dies or if there is a substantiated allegation of abuse of neglect of the child.
Best Interests of the Child
In considering a grandparent's petition for child custody, Illinois law requires a determination by the court of what is in the best interests of the child. A consideration of the best interests of the child involves determining whether placement of a minor in the custody of a grandparent enhances the health, welfare and safety of that child.
Illinois law strives to ensure that a child is provided a permanent home whenever possible. Therefore, in some situations, a grandparent seeks to adopt a grandchild. Illinois statutes consider this the "final" custodial arrangement for a grandparent. Circumstances that indicate the appropriateness of a grandparent adoption include those involving deceased parents or parents whose rights were terminated because of ongoing and consistent abuse and neglect of the child.
Due to the complexity of Illinois child custody laws for grandparents, obtaining legal representation to pursue such a case typically is a wise decision. The Illinois State Bar Association maintains directories of attorneys in different practice areas to assist you in finding an attorney:
Illinois State Bar Association Illinois Bar Center 424 S. Second St. Springfield, IL 62701-1779 217-525-1760 isba.org
A third party in a custody situation refers to a person other the parent. It is under this title that a grandparent can obtain legal custody of her grandchild. First, the third party--the grandparent--has to become the child's general guardian or limited guardian. General guardianship means that the court has already given the grandparent temporary custody of the child because the parents have been unable to care for him due to absence, neglect or abuse. The parents of the child can also voluntarily give guardianship to the grandparent. This is known as limited guardianship.
Once the grandparent obtains general or limited guardianship, three circumstances must apply to the custody situation in order for the grandparent to petition for third person custody: the biological parents of the child were never married; the custodial parent of the child dies or goes missing and under court order the noncustodial parent possesses no legal custody; and the person petitioning for custody is related to the child within fifth degree of marriage, blood, or adoption---which a grandparent would be. If one of these conditions doesn't apply to the situation, the grandparent can not petition the court for custody of her grandchild.
Best Interest of the Child
When deciding the custody of any child, whether it's between parents or between a parent and grandparent, the court will rule in favor of the best interest of the child. When establishing the best interest of the child, the court will consider the following factors: the relationship between the parent and child as well as between the grandparent and child; the ability of each party to raise the child within his religion and continue his education; the ability of the parent and the grandparent to meet the child's material needs such as food, clothes and medical care; the child's duration and stability in his current environment; the stability of each parties' family; the morality of the parent and grandparent; the psychological and physical health of the parent, grandparent and child; the willingness of each party to foster the child's relationship with the other party; and any other factor relevant to that specific child.
Child Custody Circumstances
In the state of Tennessee, a grandparent may petition a court for custody of a grandchild if both parents are deemed unfit. However, the courts strongly discourage children from being removed from the custody of their natural parents unless there is a preponderance of evidence showing that neither parent should have physical custody of the child. Abuse and neglect are the foremost reasons a child would be removed from the custody of the parents, and allegations alone are not always sufficient to prove parental unfitness. The burden of proof is on the grandparent, and if it's sufficiently proven that both parents are a detriment to the child and there is little hope of rehabilitation, a grandparent may then be awarded custody. However, grandparents cannot petition a court for custody if the grandchild is adopted by another party.
Title 36 of the Tennessee Code states that grandparents have visitation rights under the following circumstances: if the parents are legally divorced, separated or were never married, if the father or mother is deceased or has been missing for a period of at least six months, or if a court in another state has ordered the visitation. In addition, a court may order visitation if the child has lived with the grandparents for at least 12 months, or if the grandparents had a relationship with the child for six months and the relationship was ended by the parents for baseless reasons. Circumstances in which a grandparent is not granted visitation include any instances of emotional or physical abuse. Also, a grandparent may not be granted visitation if the child has been adopted by another party.
Grandparents in Tennessee lose all rights to their grandchild in the event of an adoption by another party. The grandparents cannot be handed visitation rights and they cannot file for custody after the adoption is finalized. However, grandparents may adopt their grandchild if the parents' rights were terminated. If the grandparents are married, both parties must participate in the petition to be eligible to adopt. Because grandparents are the natural relatives of the children, the six-month residency requirement to adopt is waived. Grandparents who are foster parents and who have had the child or children in their care for at least 12 months are given preference over other petitioners for an adoption.