Children need safe and stable conditions to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, parents are not always in a position to provide such an environment.
In certain cases, grandparents may be able to obtain custody. There are a few key legal terms that grandparents should be familiar with when pursuing custody cases.
Best interest of the child
In any form of custody case, the courts will always consider the best interest of the child. If a parent puts the child in danger, then the court may deem that living with a grandparent is in the child's best interest quite easily. However, if either parent is able to create a stable environment for the child, the grandparent will have to make a strong case of how living with him or her would be in the best interest for the child on a mental and emotional level, as well as physical.
There are certain parties that the courts deem to have a legitimate interest in obtaining custody of a child, outside of the child's parents. Among these individuals are:
- Stepparents, current and former
- Blood relatives and other family members
Those who had parental rights but lost them no longer have a legitimate interest. A party must have a legitimate interest to seek custody of a child.
The home state designation is important if the court needs emergency jurisdiction to make a determination for the child. If at least one of the parents has significant ties to the state or lives in the state, and another state does not have jurisdiction, the Virginia court may act as the home state.
When grandparents receive court-ordered custody, they receive legal custody. This form of custody provides grandparents with the same parental rights as the child's legal parents. Depending on the case, the court may assign the grandparents temporary or sole custody.
Understanding these key legal terms may help while navigating your custody case. If it is at all possible, it may be in the child's best interest to handle such matters outside of court. However, if that is not a viable choice, knowing your court-order options can be beneficial.