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Melissa A. Featherston

Missouri grandparents' rights a concern due to rising statistics

Missouri residents may be aware that the trends in child rearing are shifting; however where the shift is heading may be a bit of a surprise. Grandparents' rights are again making headlines due to new statistics from the U.S. Census, showing an emerging subgroup of grandparents that raise their grandchildren: single grandfathers. This shift toward grandparents raising grandchildren has been increasing since 2008 and has a focus has been placed on these roles and grandparents' rights.

Across the U.S. 5.8 million children younger than 18 years of age live in households headed by grandparents, either one or both. Additionally, around 40 percent of the 7 million grandparents who live with grandchildren report that they are responsible for their care. However, reports are showing a distinct rise in single grandfathers taking care of their grandchildren.

From 2007 to 2010, single grandfathers with one or more grandchildren in the home rose from 7.2 to 8.2 percent, with higher concentrations in specific geographical areas. Households run by single grandmothers are statistically greater in number; however the increase has been less over the same period of years, rising from 11.7 to 12.1 percent. There is no specific data showing why the increase in grandfather-run households is so high, although the recession tends to be the answer most often cited.

Questions have been raised about grandparents' rights and how that factors into this equation. Missouri grandparents raising grandchildren may benefit from learning about the laws of child custody and support, how to protect themselves, their children and grandchildren, as well as what happens if a parent seeks rights. In these increasing cases of grandparents raising grandchildren, there are three generations of the relationship to consider.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "More grandpas take on the role of single parent," Eric Adler, June 16, 2012

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