If you have found that you are now raising your children's children, you are in good company. In fact, the 2010 census identified that nearly 5 million children are being raised by the grandparents, without the parents in the home. Shockingly, that number was only 2.4 million in the 2000 census and obviously that means that there are many children and grandparents who need to more closely clarify the legal relationship between them.
If the current situation is new and expected to only be temporary, medical custody might be sufficient. If it is expected to extend throughout the school year, legal guardianship might be necessary and if there is no expectation of the biological parents ever returning or being able to parent, a formal adoption might be necessary. Due to the complexity of each situation, it is crucial to speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible, to protect the interests and well-being of the children in your care, your adult child and yourself.
What Is Medical Consent?
The concept of medical consent is fairly simple, but does not yet exist in all of the states yet. It is a written form, that grants approved adults permission to sign for necessary medical care of minor children, when their parents are unavailable.
It can be revoked at any time and when an ear-ache pops up or childhood accidents occur, you can take them to the doctor or hospital as needed. This form might be ideal when you have the children for as little as an overnight visit or longer. It is important to remember that in some states, anything short of life-threatening medical emergencies cannot be obtained without parental consent, so plan ahead.
Do You Understand The Differences Between Legal Custody And Adoption?
Legal custody is often confusing, as it is similar to adoption, but a primary difference is that it is not permanent. An unfortunately common situation today exists occurs when one or both parents are unable to care for the children, due to illness, drug use, incarceration or an otherwise unsuitable lifestyle, but there is hope for the situation to improve in the future. This option is often provided to the children, in lieu of standard foster care.
In those situations, you and your adult child (or you and the court system) may come to an agreement. By accessing legal custody of the children, you are allowed to make most or all major decisions for them. That includes academic, medical, religious, etc., although in some cases you may be required to ask the state or the biological parent for input.
Adoption is permanent and binding. You are the legal parent, with all of the associated rights and responsibilities. This decision is often the most stressful to make, because it exists only when all concerned parties are positive that at no time will the biological parents ever resume the parenting role.
In conclusion, clearly outlying the needs and responsibilities of each member of your family, while raising your grandchildren is often crucial and complicated. By speaking with an experienced family law attorney, you can be sure to protect the needs of everyone. Obtaining a formal agreement allows you to see to their medical, educational and social needs, for however long it is necessary to do so. For more information, consult with an attorney (like those at Bahan Law LLC).