Despite what you may have heard, grandparents can obtain legal guardianship of their grandchildren. Legal guardianship grants grandparents a limited set of rights and responsibilities for their grandkids. Sometimes, the parents will voluntarily create a grandparent guardianship agreement, other times a family court will determine the guardianship agreement for the grandchildren. Essentially, guardianship entails that the grandparents act in the best interest of their grandchildren and care for their daily needs.
Grandparents who are legal guardians are entitled to make decisions about their grandchildren's medical care, schooling, and finances. This means that a grandparent guardian can apply for things like Social Security on behalf of their grandchildren. Although grandparent guardians have many rights, they cannot change their grandchild’s name if the child’s parents are still alive. In this case, a grandparent who is guardian would need the living parents’ consent in order to change the name.
When a grandparent becomes a legal guardian, they become responsible for the everyday care of their grandkids. If the grandchild has an estate, the grandparents will be legally entrusted with managing the minor's finances. Usually, grandparents are financially liable for their grandchildren if the court has terminated parental rights. However, parents are sometimes required to pay child support to the guardians.
Guardian Parental Rights
A grandparent guardianship arrangement does not eliminate the parents' rights to visit their children, unless the court has terminated parental rights. Although the court or guardian can restrict the visitations and interactions between parents and their children, parents usually retain their rights throughout the duration of the guardianship arrangement. A guardianship arrangement can be terminated by the court at any time. However, when a guardianship arrangement is made voluntarily, the parents can choose to end the agreement.
Do you have more questions about guardianship rights? Contact our Charleston family law attorney to find out how we can assist you today.