Gaining custody of grandchildren in California is possible. However, it is not a simple process. You will have to prove that your home is the safest, most supportive home for your grandchildren, and to overcome the bond of a legal parent, is a high burden.

Under what circumstances is grandparent custody possible?

California family code is extremely clear about the situations in which it may allow non-parent custody. The situation must be that continued placement with the parent is detrimental to the child, meaning that:

  • The child’s mental health is suffering
  • The child’s parents are incarcerated
  • The child faces significant neglect or abuse

If a situation is detrimental to a child’s well-being, the court will consider placing a child with a non-parent.

As a grandparent to the child, and one that can offer a significantly beneficial home to your grandchildren, you may be an ideal placement. However, you would have to prove it.

What are the options for grandparents?

You may pursue either a temporary or permanent placement in your home. As a temporary placement, the hope is that the child will eventually reunite with their parent once the situation causes the unsafe conditions to have passed. Sometimes this is possible, and sometimes it isn’t. In some cases, there is an opportunity for visitation.

You’ll pursue adoption if you seek more permanent custody of your grandchild. Adoption will mean removing the parental rights of your grandchild’s biological parents. In other words, you’ll have to take steps to draw your own child’s legal claim to their child. This is an emotionally fraught situation.

Is this the right choice for you?

Before pursuing custody of your grandchildren, you must clearly know why you are doing it. This is going to be a disruption. You cannot avoid that. But if your home truly is the best one for the child, it may be worth doing.