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Melissa A. Featherston

Grandparents' rights a growing issue in divorce cases

There are a growing number of grandparents who are raising their children, in Missouri and across the country, bringing this issue of grandparents' rights into the national spotlight. Typically, this is an issue that is commonly seen during divorce cases. However, grandparents' rights often come into question when the biological parents are unable to care for their children, and grandparents feel that they need to become involved.

There are many reasons why Missouri grandparents could end up parenting their grandchildren. Possible reasons can include that a parent is in jail, dealing with addiction, facing physical disabilities or more. Many times, these arrangements are simply verbal or understood within the family, but legal guardianship is not formally arranged. This can be a problem when there is a medical emergency with the child or a disagreement between the parents and the grandparents.

Guardianship is rather easy to legally arrange, terminate or change in many cases. However, it can get much more complicated when grandparents wish to legally pursue custody of the grandchildren. Custody cases require court visits and other complicating factors. The grandparents who hope to be granted custody will have the responsibility of presenting a significant burden of proof to the court.

Child custody issues are commonly associated with divorce cases, but there are other reasons why this issue is becoming more prevalent. Grandparents' rights are a somewhat murky issue, legally speaking, and it can be complicated to prove these rights in court -- but not impossible, and it is something often worth pursuing for the sake of the children involved. Whenever custody is in question, both sides have the right to present evidence to bolster their claims.

Source: American News Report, "Child Custody Not Limited to Divorce", , April 2, 2014

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