In some cases, grandparents may wish to seek custody or permanent adoption of their grandchildren. Indiana law also allows grandparents to seek visitation rights if the child’s parents end their relationship.
Learn about the process of seeking legal custody, adoption or visitation of your grandchild in the Indiana family court system.
Requirements for visitation
The grandparent seeking visitation must prove that he or she has had a meaningful relationship with the grandchild in the past. He or she must also present evidence that an ongoing relationship serves the grandchild’s best interests. The court will review a grandparent visitation petition when the petitioner’s child is deceased or no longer has a relationship with the grandchild’s other parent.
Temporary or permanent custody
While Indiana strives to keep children with their parents whenever safe and possible to do so, grandparents sometimes receive temporary or permanent custody. If the grandchild’s custodial parent dies or cannot safely care for the child and the other parent does not have custody, the grandparent can file a petition with the court for emergency temporary custody. The court will determine whether the family member can provide a safe home for the child until the parents are able to do so.
The adoption process
When parents cannot provide the care a child needs, the grandparents may step in to serve as guardians. According to the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center, 7% of minor children in Indiana live with their maternal or paternal grandparents.
When this situation becomes permanent, if the grandparent wishes to adopt a grandchild and the parents agree, the family can arrange a private adoption. This requires termination of the parental rights of the biological parents, upon which the grandparent can become the child’s legal parent.
While grandparents can exercise legal rights in Indiana, the rights of the parents will supersede those of grandparents unless parents die or endanger the child’s welfare. If you care for your grandchildren in their parents’ absence, having a legal agreement can give you the ability to seek medical care and make other decisions on your grandchild’s behalf.