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More grandparents given custody of grandchildren

Texas grandparents are increasingly becoming the guardians of their grandchildren as are grandparents all over the country. From 2000 to 2010, the number of children being raised by their grandparents doubled. The main reason for this change is that courts are increasingly making an effort to place children with family. It is believed that grandparents can provide children with a more familiar home life than strangers, and that this, in turn, is less disruptive to children.

Recognizing this change in families, agencies and organizations are making an effort to provide support. One community collected school supplies in backpacks for grandparents. AARP has created what it calls a GrandFamilies Guide that addresses a number of topics from education to work to finance. It also list of the legal documents grandparents need in order to make medical and financial decisions for their grandchildren including consent forms, financial records, the children's birth certificates and more. The federal government has also assembled a number of resources helpful to grandparents.

Grandparents may find themselves raising their grandchildren for a number of reasons, including birth parent incarceration, mental illness or abandonment. Whether they are raising their grandchildren or not, grandparents may not realize they have certain rights. For example, after a divorce, they may also be granted visitation rights.

An attorney can be helpful in guiding grandparents through the process of seeking custody or visitation rights to their grandchildren. The tendency of courts is toward acting in the best interests of the child and keeping families together as much as possible. If keeping grandparents in a child's life is seen as a positive force, then the legal system may be likely to ensure that this remains possible.

Source: Deseret News, "At granny's house: More children raised by grandparents than before", Lois M. Collins, August 05, 2014

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