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When A Grandparent Or Another Nonparent Takes A Parental Role

If parents are unable or unwilling to fulfill their roles as primary nurturers of their children, it is fortunate, indeed, when one or more other caring adults step in to meet those children’s needs. As family law attorneys, we have assisted many such caregivers who were raising children who were not their own biological, adopted or foster children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, domestic partners of one of the parents and family friends often find themselves in this position when parents are:

  • Deployed overseas in military service
  • Seriously ill
  • Experiencing addiction or mental illness
  • Incarcerated
  • Unstable
  • Unable to make a living and give the child a home
  • Missing

In such cases, the person acting as a parent naturally wants to protect the child’s stability and continuity of care. Often they do this by seeking custody or another appropriate legal status. Indiana family laws define a de facto parent as someone (other than a designated foster parent) who has taken on a parent’s duties for six months or longer for a child under age 3 or for at least a year for a child age 3 or older. Note that any time that the child spends in the care of a de facto parent after a child custody case has begun does not count toward the required six months or one year.

An adult in the position of a de facto parent may have the right – and the need – for legal recognition as the child’s primary caregiver. For example, a grandmother or grandfather acting as a de facto parent may need legal status to enroll a child in school, give permission for medical care and make other key decisions for the child.

Our law firm is ready, willing and able to guide grandparents and others as they pursue legal standing as:

  • Guardians
  • Foster parents
  • Adoptive parents
  • De facto parents with custody rights

Get A Lawyer’s Advice And Guidance

Whatever the circumstances are in your family and home life after you have taken on a parent’s role, our Indiana family law firm is here to help you explore your options. You may already be a de facto parent of a grandchild, niece, nephew, stepchild, friend or neighbor, without realizing it. As experienced family law attorneys, we are here to help you find and implement the right solution. Call us at 859-905-0814 or use our easy online form to start the conversation.

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