Grandparents may be responsible for the care of grandchildren through a casual agreement with parents. However, there are times when it is necessary or desirable for a grandparent to become a grandchild’s legal custodian. Under Louisiana family laws, grandparents may be awarded guardianships or obtain temporary provisional or full legal custody – even adoption is possible.
A legal arrangement is beneficial, since grandparents’ rights are limited without one. For example, provisional custody includes parental authorizations to allow a grandparent to take custody of and care for a child. Legal ties give grandparents privileges that normally are reserved only for parents, like making education and medical decisions for a child.
In some states, grandparents without legal ties to grandchildren may not make these choices. In other states, consent laws allow grandparents to act on these matters without obtaining custody or guardianship. The subject is worth exploring with an attorney before school enrollment issues or medical emergencies arise.
Louisiana, like other states, offers subsidy and other programs that can help grandparents caring for grandchildren. Among them is the Kinship Care Subsidy Program, which provides benefits for relatives with provisional or legal custody and qualified guardians.
Establishing a legal relationship with a grandchild in foster care can be a sensitive and complex issue. Many states look to relatives to provide childcare before making the minor a ward of the state. It is possible for a grandparent to be given the role of foster parent through kinship care programs.
Grand foster parents are permitted to provide care and make choices to benefit a grandchild. However, foster children remain in the legal custody of the state, which financially supports the children. A lawyer can explain what options you may have to change the foster parent relationship to a legal one.
You’ll know better where you stand in matters concerning grandchildren, when you discuss your situation with a family law attorney.