As a grandparent living near your grandchild in Hampton Roads, you may take on babysitting duties and after-school care to help the family save money. Should a situation arise where a child requires more, you may believe you can simply assume temporary or permanent custody. This is not always the case.
As a blood relative concerned for the welfare of your grandchild, you qualify as a “person with a legitimate interest” in the Commonwealth of Virginia if you wish to petition for custody. However, you are still considered a third party according to the Virginia Code. Parental presumption will trump a third party petition if the parent is shown to be fit.
You must prove to a court of law that the child’s best interests lie with you as legal guardian. Virginia Code recognizes five circumstances under which a court may grant custody to a third party. To succeed in your case, you must be able to prove at least one of these occurrences:
Parental Unfitness: Are the parents using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, or engaging in activities that create an unsafe environment for their child?
Previous Order of Divestiture: Have the parents lost custody of the child in the past? Is there evidence to suggest they should not have custody now?
Voluntary Relinquishment: In the event, a parent is deployed or incarcerated for a lengthy period, can you prove they have willingly granted you the right to care for their child? Can you prove it’s in the best interest of the child to stay with you in the long-term?
Abandonment: Can you prove the parent has relinquished their child to you without a good reason? Proving abandonment can prove parental unfitness.
Special Facts and Circumstances: Is there evidence that the parents are not acting in the child’s best interests? Are they physically or emotionally abusive, homeless or without income, or unwilling to seek aid for their child’s medical issues?
Your chances of satisfying any of these circumstances can improve with the help of a Suffolk attorney who specializes in family law. At Bush and Taylor, PC, our lawyers have the experience and knowledge you need to prove your case. Whatever the situation that has prompted you to seek custody, we are here to help. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your rights as a custodial grandparent.