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How Can Grandparents Gain Custody of Their Grandchild?

by | May 21, 2024 | Family Law |

In certain situations, grandparents may find themselves in the challenging position of wanting to secure custody of their grandchildren, especially when they believe the children are not in a safe or conducive environment under their parents’ care. While not as widely recognized as disputes over parental custody, the issue of grandparents’ rights to custody is a significant and sensitive matter that demands attention. 

The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins stands ready to assist concerned grandparents. With our insights, we aim to demystify the process and advocate for grandchildren’s well-being, ensuring they receive the care and protection they deserve. 

Your Grandparent Rights Under Michigan Law

Navigating grandparents’ rights in Michigan can indeed be complex. Still, grandparents need to know that they have the legal pathway to seek custody of their grandchildren under specific conditions. If you are concerned that your grandchild is not in a safe environment or that their well-being could be significantly improved by living with you, you can file a petition for guardianship or custody in court. Keep in mind that the child’s parents must be deemed unfit or unable to provide adequate care, and the court will consider the child’s best interests when making a decision.

When Is Custody Granted to Grandparents?

The victories of grandparents in custody battles are hard-won and usually occur under specific circumstances where the child’s best interests are clearly at stake. This may include situations involving parental death, chronic neglect or abuse, or a prolonged absence of parental responsibility. 

The court will hardly ever award custody of a child to grandparents if the parents are still alive and capable of providing reasonable care. Additionally, Michigan state law presumes custody with a parent is in the child’s best interests unless proven otherwise.

Factors Considered by the Court

When deciding on a grandparent’s petition for custody or guardianship, there are specific factors that the court will consider before making a ruling. These may include:

  • The child’s best interests: This is the top priority for any custody decision, and the court will base its decision on what is best for the child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
  • The relationship between grandparent and grandchild: Courts may consider the strength of the bond between a grandparent and grandchild when deciding custody. A close and positive relationship can be a significant factor in granting custody to grandparents.
  • Parents’ fitness: If the parents are deemed unfit or unable to provide a suitable environment for their children, the court may grant custody to grandparents.
  • Preferences of the child: In some cases, children of a certain age and maturity level may be allowed to express their preferences for custody arrangements. The court will consider these preferences but ultimately base its decision on the child’s best interests.

Steps to Gain Custody

To gain custody of a grandchild in Michigan, grandparents must take specific steps, including:

  1. Filing a petition: The first step is to go to the family court in the county where the child resides and file a petition for custody.
  2. Serving notice: The child’s parents must be notified of the petition and allowed to respond.
  3. Attending mediation: In some cases, the court may require grandparents and parents to attend mediation to try and reach a custody agreement.
  4. Presenting evidence: At a hearing, both parties will present evidence and arguments to support their custody case. The court will then decide based on what it thinks is best for the child.
  5. Obtaining legal representation: It is highly recommended that grandparents seeking custody of their grandchildren seek the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to walk them through the legal process and advocate for their rights. 

Protect Your Grandchildren Today

As a grandparent, it can be heartbreaking to see your grandchildren in a potentially harmful or unstable environment. However, with the proper legal guidance and representation, you can take steps to gain custody and ensure their well-being. The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins are dedicated to helping grandparents navigate the complex world of family law and protect the best interests of their grandchildren. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you fight for your rights as a grandparent.