One of the most joyous events in an adult’s life is the birth of a grandchild. Many Alabama grandparents are often eager to help their children in whatever way they can, including when difficult times occur.
Many may envision this help coming in the form of occasional babysitting or buying some new clothes for school. For an increasing number of Alabama grandparents, however, they are being called to do far more in raising their grandchildren, which calls into question the effect of child custody laws involving grandparents.
In 2011, over 65,000 Alabama grandparents were responsible for their minor grandchildren, which is a 8.2 percent increase from 2009. Officials noted several reasons for the increase, including the inability of parents to afford to raise their children, drug addition or other mental health problems.
Despite being responsible, and confronting many financial and other challenges, many grandparents in Alabama do not seek legal custody through the court system. The laws for grandparent custody are often less specific than those for visitation rights for grandparents.
In making a custody determination, courts must of course consider the relationship between the parent and child. For instance, if both parents are deceased, some states have laws that consider grandparent custody.
If at least one parent is alive, however, courts often presume that parent should retain custody, rather than a grandparent. This is not always the case, however, such as where the grandparent can show the parent is unfit to raise the child. The custody showing is difficult for grandparents to make, however, even in cases where they have a strong relationship with the child.
Source: AL.com, “When temporary arrangements become permanent,” Jeremy Gray, Nov.