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Grandparents' Temporary Custody
Written By : Jacquelyn Dunn 
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Many loving grandparents are finding themselves in situations where they need to step in and parent their grandchildren. Grandparents as parents can be necessary in certain situations. Sometimes the circumstances need grandparent's temporary custody to be requested and sometimes the best solution means joint child custody between parent and grandparent. In high-risk situations where it would mean possible harm to the child to be in the care of their parent(s),then a probate court ruling can issue what is called Immediate Temporary Custody to a custodial relative like a grandparent. The grandparent's temporary custody would last for 5 business days when a second hearing would be scheduled to rule on further custody of the minor children.

If the situation is not high-risk, but the parent(s) are not fit to care for the child, then a petition or application must be filed with the court to ask for grandparent's temporary custody. Once the petition or application is filed, then a hearing is scheduled. Most likely, a social worker from the Department of Children and Families (or a similar department name, depending on the state you live in) will visit with the grandparent that asked for the hearing to determine if they are a good fit as temporary custodian. This visit could also be a home visit and the findings will be reported at the hearing. This social worker will make their recommendation as to whether the situation needs to be temporary or more permanent. Of course, the judge will make the final ruling after hearing all the information from the lawyers as well, but they will take the report and any testimony of the social worker into consideration.

When a parent is sick, going to jail for less than one year, is going to be treated in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program, or some other kind of absence from their children's lives, then they can sign a document obtained from a probate court that says that they are giving 'standby guardianship' to the grandparents. This standby guardianship can give the grandparent's temporary custody for up to 1 year. If the parent is better before the year is up, then they can revoke the guardianship and custody and claim their parental rights.

Again, depending on the situation, joint custody between parent and grandparent is another option. Most likely, a court will not approve this kind of arrangement unless the parent(s) consent or if it can be proven that harm may come to the child without a joint custody schedule worked out. It has to be in the best interest of the child and the burden of proof is on the grandparent. However, there are two types of custody that can be discussed. There is physical custody that can be shared on a joint basis and there is legal custody. Physical custody determines where the child lives. Legal custody determines who makes the decisions concerning school, medical care, religion and other important activities for the child. Joint custody between parent and grandparent will need to spell out both types of custody.

What makes these situations so difficult at times is that each case has its own circumstances and so it is treated so differently under the particular laws of the state where the parents and grandparents reside. The best way to know if grandparent's temporary custody or joint custody is best is to seek the advice of legal counsel.

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