Virtually every Louisiana resident is aware of at least one family where the grandparents have stepped in to provide care for their grandchildren when the parents are unable to do so. Very often, this outcome is the result of drug or alcohol abuse, and part of ongoing stress and trauma within the family. Those grandparents often have a very tenuous position when it comes to child custody rights.
One state has addressed this issue with a new law that gives grandparents preference in certain child custody cases. When a child is removed from the care of a parent due to drug or alcohol abuse, grandparents are given a preferred status when seeking placement for the children. That move can help families provide a stable environment for kids who desperately need that stability, and could help many children avoid entering the foster care system.
Even better, the law also makes it easier for grandparents to retain custody once children have been placed into their care. That can make a world of difference in avoiding ongoing custody challenges, which can quickly drain a family's resources. It is an unfortunate reality that some parents who struggle with addiction are unable to place the needs of their children above the demands of their addiction. This law will prevent such parents from coming in and removing their children from a stable and loving home.
For Louisiana families who are facing a similar need to step in and provide care for a grandchild, it is important to address the legal side of things at the earliest opportunity. There is nothing more disheartening than getting kids back on track and in a stable living arrangement, only to have that stability disrupted. Obtaining child custody rights may be a challenge, but it is a step that is in line with the best interests of the child in situations where parental drug abuse is an issue.
Source: startribune.com, "New Hampshire law gives grandparents custody preference", Michael Casey, June 28, 2017