A real solution when, because of unfortunate circumstances, a parent cannot be in charge of their childs upbringing
If your grandchildren are, or will be, living with you for an indefinite period of time you need to understand what and how laws can affect grandparents who are raising grandchildren as their own. Even though your grandchildren are part of your family, and you care and love them enormously, it does not mean that you have the right to make legal or life altering decisions on their behalf.
Unless you have legal custodial permission, or a court has granted you legal rights over your grandchildren, you will not be able to authorize emergency medical treatment for them, enroll them into a new school, add them to your health insurance, or speak for them from a legal perspective. That right will remain with the legal parents unless it is transferred through a signed court order to the grandparents. But what can a grandparent do when the parents are not available? This is the difficult question that custodial grandparents face every day and why adoptions by grandparents have become crucial and more important in Florida.
The State of Florida has created a fast track processes to allow for a grandparent adoption, especially in cases of child abandonment or parental death. Cases where the parents are available and consent to the adoption can also be included as part of the fast path process. In the event that the legal parents do not consent, the court will evaluate the case carefully and try to make a decision that is best for the child – stay with the parents or transfer custody to the grandparents.
If adoption is not the best alternative for you at this time, there are other instruments that can be used to help minimize the legal gaps:
- Power of Attorney: tcan be developed to grant you specific or overall rights over a child either indefinitely, or for a specified period of time. The POA does not severe the familial or legal relationship to the child’s parents and can be revoked by the parents at any time. This instrument is commonly used by families where both parents will not be available for extended periods of time, like military service or incarceration, and the children will be taken care of by a family member or friend.
- Medical Consent: allows a grandparent to consent medical treatment for a child in the event the parents or legal custodial is not present to make the decision. This instrument is useful for grandparents who are taking care of children in case of an emergency.
- Guardianship: which is similar to a Power of Attorney, but it usually will take effect in the event the parents pass away.
We can evaluate what your circumstances are and help determine what the best course of action should be. Please schedule an appointment today.