It is widely decided that parents have the legal right to determine what is best for their children and give them appropriate care. However, grandparents who believe their grandchildren are being abused or not living in the best conditions can petition for custody of the children.
A grandparent seeking full custody of their grandchild can file a petition for custody with a Kentucky court. In all cases, the court will try to determine which custody arrangement would be best for the child.
A court will consider the:
- child’s relationship with the grandparents;
- child’s relationship with other relatives;
- grandparent’s age;
- grandparent’s health; and
- grandparent’s ability to support the child.
Custody When Both Parents Are Alive
When both parents are alive, a court generally prefers to place a child with one or both of their parents. If both parents are unable or unwilling to raise the child, third parties will be considered.
Circumstances that call for a child to be placed with their grandparents include:
- both parents deemed unfit;
- both parents consent to granting grandparents custody;
- documented abuse or neglect in the home;
- drug or alcohol abuse in the home; and/or
- one parent is unfit and the other will not take the child.
Even if the parents are deemed unfit to raise their child, a court still may not grant custody to the grandparents. If other family members would also like custody and the court believes they could offer the child a better life, they will award custody to one of them.
Custody After the Death of the Custodial Parent
In the event of the custodial parent’s death, the court’s first choice will be to place the child with the other parent. The second choice is a close blood relative if the grandparents are not the only family members willing to take custody of the child. The court will determine who is best fit for custody based on the child’s best interest.
A few factors that help a grandparent’s chances are:
- the grandchild was already living with the grandparents;
- the parents left a will stating the grandparents as guardians; or
- the child would prefer to live with the grandparents.
De Facto Custodian
A de facto custodian is a caregiver who has been the primary caregiver of the child for a set amount of time. A grandparent who qualifies as a de facto custodian is legally allowed to be heard in a Kentucky custody case.
To qualify for de facto custody, a grandparent must have provided financial support to the child:
- for at least 6 months (if the child is under 3); or
- for at least 1 year (if the child is 3 or older) or the child has been placed in the home by the department of community-based services.
A de facto custodian must be the primary caregiver and primary financial supporter. They must also do a better job of caring for the child than the natural parents. If you meet the requirements to be a de facto custodian, you will have equal standing with a custodial parent in a custody case.
Our Custody Attorney Is Here for You
As your legal representative, Attorney Louis P. Winner will do everything he can to assist you in obtaining custody of your grandchild.
Contact the firm online or call at (502) 812-1889 for your case evaluation.