The love of a grandparent is a special blessing in a child’s life. Many grandparents enjoy years of celebrating birthdays, holidays, vacations, and extended visits with their grandchildren. Grandparent wisdom and their knowledge of family history are the cornerstones for keeping family traditions alive.
When parents lose custody of their child due to accusations of child abuse or neglect, grandparents are often the first ones to step in and assume the responsibility for the child. This situation keeps children from entering the foster care system, but the relationships between grandparents and their own children can become complicated.
Grandparent Custody in New Jersey
New Jersey law offers grandparents more legal rights than most other states in the nation. There are several options for grandparents to consider when DCPP investigators remove a child from the home.
- Custody: When a grandparent is granted custody of a grandchild, they assume all responsibility for providing and caring for that child. Medical decisions, educational issues, food, clothing, and shelter are provided by the grandparent. Custody can be granted through a court order, or when a parent relinquishes their parental rights. Not all custody cases result in a parent losing all of their parental rights. Custody can be granted with parental visitation and be contingent on the parents meeting court appointed goals.
- Kinship Legal Guardianship: Many grandparents assume custody of their grandchildren through the Kinship Legal Guardianship program. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) program works with grandparents and other blood relatives to transfer legal custody after children are removed from their home by DCPP investigators. Caregivers who gain custody through this program are the legal guardians of the child and assume all financial, medical, and educational responsibility for the child. Parents may still have parental rights under this program.
- Guardianship: Guardianship is granted by the courts when custody is taken away from the parents or legal guardians of a child. Parental rights are usually lost in this process. Though custody and guardianship are similar, each state has its own laws that define what rights are granted and assumed in a court appointed guardianship.
- Adoption: Grandparents and legal guardians can adopt a child in their care when the birth parents refuse to comply with court ordered mandates. When a child is adopted, the parents’ legal rights are permanently revoked.
What if a Grandparent Accuses You of Abuse or Neglect?
In some cases, a grandparent can accuse a parent of substance abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect in an effort to gain custody of their grandchild. Consultation and representation by an experienced New Jersey DCPP lawyer is essential to protecting your parental rights.
In New Jersey, grandparents have the right to sue their children for custody and visitation rights if they believe their grandchildren are being abused or neglected or are at risk of being abused or neglected. A reputable DCPP lawyer will be able to provide the courts with evidence of your ability to care for your children and will work with you on creating reasonable goals to have your children returned to you if they have been taken away.
A South Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Will Counsel Parents and Grandparents on DCPP Child Custody Issues
If you are dealing with a DCPP child custody issue, contact a South Jersey DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-795-9400 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Cherry Hill offices serve clients throughout the South Jersey areas of Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.