Many grandparents mistakenly believe that they have no legal rights concerning their grandchildren under Alabama law. The fact is, we have assisted many grandparents in obtaining visitation rights with their grandchildren, legal custody of their grandchildren, and even adoption of their grandchildren. GRANDPARENTS DO HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS IN ALABAMA!
Psychologists agree that children who have a positive close relationship with their grandparents are more likely to be successful and content adults than those children who do not have that type of relationship with their grandparents. In spite of the many benefits a grandparent can offer a child, some parents refuse to allow their children to associate with their grandparents. The actions of the parent are usually motivated by a desire to hurt the grandparents or get revenge for a perceived wrong done to the parent by the grandparents. Alabama law allows the courts to review the decision of a parent when contact between the children and grandparents is denied. Although parents are generally permitted to determine their child’s associations, that right is not absolute.
You May Be Eligible For Grandparent Visitation If:
1. The parents are divorced.
2. One or both of the parents are deceased.
3. The child was born out of wedlock and you are the child’s grandparent.
We must show:
1. You have a significant and lasting relationship with the child or children.
2. Visitation with you would be in the best interest of the child or children.
3. Your grandchild or grandchildren have resided with you for at least 6 months within the past three years. Another way to complete this requirement is by showing you have been the caregiver of the child or children during that same time period. Another option is to show that you have maintained regular contact with the child or children.
4. You have the capacity to give the child or children love, affection & guidance.
5. The loss of the relationship with you would likely cause harm to the child or children.
6. You are willing to cooperate with the parents.
Grandparent Visitation Statute 30-3-4.2 Code of Alabama
Alabama law permits a juvenile court to remove a child from the parents’ custody and place the child with a third party (such as a grandparent) if the court determines that the child is “Dependent.” Dependency is a legal term which has a very broad definition. A grandparent can be awarded legal custody of a grandchild if any one of the elements of dependency can be proven. For more information on obtaining custody of your grandchild(ren) call Judge Sandlin at 256-319-2798, he can help.
You may be eligible to obtain legal custody of your grandchild if:
1. Your grandchild has been abused or neglected.
2. The child is without a parent willing and able to provide for the care, support, or education of the child.
3. The parent neglects or refuses, when able to do so or when the service is offered without charge, to provide or allow medical, surgical or other care necessary for the health or well-being of the child.
4. The parent has abandoned the child.
5. The parent is unable or unwilling to discharge his or her responsibilities to and for the child.
6. The child has been placed for care or adoption in violation of the law.
Most of the grandparents we represent want their child to adjust his or her lifestyle so that he/she can resume the parenting role and they can resume the grandparenting role. These selfless individuals never intended to become parents again. They are sacrificing their own personal goals and dreams to step in and do the job their child is supposed to be doing. I’ve never met a grandparent in this situation who regrets the role they have taken in their grandchild’s life. But this role was not their choice. It was forced on them by parents who have failed to be parents. In many instances the role is temporary and the parent takes back his/her responsibilities. Sadly however, some parents are never able to get their own life in order to a degree that will qualify them for parenting. When these situations arise, the grandparent needs to consider a formal adoption of the grandchild.
The benefit of adoption over legal custody can be significant. Most importantly, custody orders are always subject to change. Adoption is permanent. This permanency provides a peace of mind for the grandchildren involved. If a grandparent only has legal custody, there is always the chance that a court could reverse that status and restore custody to the parent. Many parents use the temporary nature of a custody order to tell their children that the parent is going to take them from their grandparents’ home and bring them back to his/her home. This possibility can be very unsettling and possibly frightening to the grandchildren. Adoption removes this possibility and allows the grandparent to confidently tell the grandchildren that they will never have to leave their safe place. Additionally, if the grandchildren are adopted, they will qualify for additional legal rights they may not receive if the grandparent only has legal custody. These legal rights include health insurance benefits, social security benefits, inheritance rights and others.
You may be eligible to adopt your grandchild if:
1. Both parents consent to the adoption, or
2. The court terminates the parental rights of both parents due to one or more of the following factors:
3. The parent has abandoned the child and this abandonment continues for a period of four months or more immediately prior to the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights;
4. Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency of the parent, or excessive use of alcohol or controlled substances
5. The parent has tortured, abused, cruelly beaten or otherwise maltreated the child, or attempted to do so;
6. The parent has been convicted and imprisoned for a felony;
7. The parent has (i) murdered another child of that parent; (ii) aided or attempted murder of another child of that parent; or (iii) assaulted or abused the child or another child of that parent resulting in serious bodily injury.
8. The child has unexplained serious injury under circumstances that would indicate that the injuries resulted from the intentional conduct or willful neglect of the parent.
9. The parents’ parental rights to a sibling of the child have been terminated.
10. The parent has failed to provide for the material needs of the child or pay support.
11. The parent has failed to maintain regular visits with the child.
12. The parent has failed to maintain consistent contact or communication with the child.
13. The parent has failed to adjust his or her circumstances to meet the needs of the child.