Do grandparents have any legal custody rights?

UPDATED: Jul 26, 2011

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Do grandparents have any legal custody rights?

Asked on July 26, 2011 Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that uner certain circumstances, a judge may grant custody to grandparents (as well as other family members or other interested parties). To petition for non-parental custody can be file if both parents have abandoned the child or are unfit because of abuse, neglect, addictions or mental illness. Typically a custody suit has a greater chance of being successful if the grandparents have already been sheltering and providing for the child. If formal custody is granted it allows the grandparents to act on the child's behalf regarding education, health care and other official matters.

Note: Visitation may be more problematic; there are no automatic right for a grandparent to have visitation. A WA statute along these lines was overturned by the US Supreme Court.

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