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Grandparents increasingly guardians of grandchildren

Some Maryland grandparents are joining a growing trend throughout the country in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren. When children are unable to live with their biological parents, courts now make an effort to place them with someone they know. Ideally, this is a family member. Children raised by their grandparents may be brought up with values similar to those of their parents, and this can contribute to a sense of stability. Whether grandparents step in due to death, mental illness, incarceration or for some other reason, going to live with them may be less disruptive for children than other solutions.

When grandparents become responsible for their grandchildren, it is important to make sure that they have all the necessary documents. Depending on whether the guardianship is permanent or temporary and the child's situation, this may include birth certificates, citizenship papers, a power of attorney, consent forms and medical records.

Grandparents may also look to federal, state and local agencies for assistance. Organizations may provide financial help as well as tips related to education, health and more. The AARP has become aware of the rapidly changing role many grandparents are now playing in the lives of their grandchildren and has created a guide for grandparents as well as a list of documents they may need.

When child custody becomes the responsibility of grandparents, they may wish to consult with an attorney to make sure that they have all the necessary documentation to be the guardians. Grandparents who do not have primary custody of their grandchildren still may have visitation rights, and if they feel they are being prevented from seeing their grandchildren, they may be able to pursue this in court as a parent would.

Source: Deseret News, "At granny's house: More children raised by grandparents than before", Lois M. Collins, August 05, 2014

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