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When can Louisianans seek custody of grandchildren?

In ideal situations, parents are able and willing to raise their own children. However, sometimes parents aren't able to provide their children with a safe, loving home. In Louisiana, there are several circumstances in which grandparents can step in and request legal custody of their grandchildren.

Parents can sign a form called a Voluntary Transfer of Custody if they agree that the grandparents should have custody of a child. The form, which is signed by a judge, can grant either temporary or permanent custody. Parents can change their minds and ask to regain custody. However, the judge would need to approve that request.

The other situations in which grandparents can request custody involve the potential that some type of harm would come to children if they remained with their parents due to neglect or abuse. For example, if the state has taken custody of children because they have been neglected or abused, grandparents can take steps to gain legal custody. In Louisiana, the preference is for relatives to care for children rather than to place them with a foster family.

If grandparents believe that a child is being abused by his or her parents, the grandparents can request temporary custody (from six to 18 months) by filing a protective order. If the grandparents are able to prove the abuse, these protective orders, which are filed on behalf of the child, are usually done when the situation is considered an emergency.

Grandparents can also request custody of the children if the parents are going through a divorce. However, they would have to prove either neglect or abuse in these cases.

While it is not necessary to have an attorney to proceed with all of these actions, it's always advisable to seek guidance from a Louisiana family law attorney who is experienced with custody cases involving grandparents. When a child's safety and well-being is at stake, you want to have the best possible chance for a successful outcome.

Source: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, "Helping the Children," accessed April. 08, 2015

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