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More grandparents getting legal custody of grandchildren

In Georgia and across the country, many grandparents are taking on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. When children can no longer live with their biological parents for any reason, child welfare workers usually attempt to place the children with close relatives before seeking other alternatives. Placing them with grandparents can provide comfort to both the parents and the children because of similar surroundings and family values. This might help explain why the number of children being raised by grandparents in the U.S. more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

When children are abandoned by their parents or cannot be raised by their parents due to drug addiction, incarceration or similar circumstances, the grandparents often take on that obligation, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Because of this, several federal, state and local agencies have programs to assist grandparents with raising their grandchildren. This assistance includes financial support as well as help with a broad range of other issues that grandparents will face.

For example, some communities are providing children with backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies. Other organizations, such as AARP, can help grandparents compile the documents that they may need, such as guardianship papers, birth certificates, medical records and Social Security cards. One university extension group has created fact sheets to help the grandparents hone their parenting skills.

Grandparents sometimes find themselves in situations where they may have to fight for legal custody of their grandchildren. In such an event, the grandparents could consult with an attorney with experience in family law who could both give them advice on how to proceed as well as act as their representative.

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

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