How does a grandparent get custody of a grandchild in Kentucky? It can be an uphill struggle, and often comes down to what’s considered in the best interests of the child.
The only way a grandparent can gain legal custody of a grandchild is to have a court grant it and, under normal circumstances, courts won’t consider such a petition since a grandparent lacks “standing.”
Standing is defined as the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to the action to support that party’s participation in the case. Basically, the grandparent has to show the court they are more suitable to be a child’s legal custodian than the current one. If the current one is a parent of the child, proving that will be difficult.
There are several ways for a grandparent to gain standing:
Emergency Custody: A grandparent can seek limited custody in emergency situations such as the death of one parent. While only temporary, the amount of time a grandparent spends as the grandchild’s caregiver can influence custody petitions filed later.
Guardian: Being appointed a guardian of a grandchild does give a grandparent standing to petition a court for custody. Guardianships are often awarded when a parent’s right to the child is terminated, an emergency occurs warranting temporary guardianship, or the grandchild lives with the grandparent with no financial aid from the parent.
De Facto Custodian: A grandparent is to be considered a “de facto” custodian (with standing) if they can demonstrate that they have been the child’s primary caregiver and source of financial support for six months or more (for a child under three years old), and over one year (for a child over three).
Having gained standing, the grandparent can bring a complaint for custody of the grandchild. To gain custody, the grandparent must show the court that such an arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Factors the court will consider include:
- The wishes of the parent, child and grandparent.
- The extent to which the grandparent has cared for, nurtured and supported the child.
- The parent’s intent and the circumstances surrounding the placement of the child with the grandparent.
- The physical and mental health of all parties.
Getting custody of a grandchild in Kentucky is a complex process. But, if the situation warrants it and the grandparent meets all his or her legal obligations, it can be done.
Especially when it’s in the best interests of the child.