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More grandparents gaining custody of their grandchildren

Illinois residents might be affected by the growing trend of grandparents increasingly stepping in to raise their grandchildren when child custody has been reassigned. Due to an increase in efforts to place children with family members when they are removed from the home of their biological parents, the number of children being raised by their grandparents doubled between 2000 and 2010.

There are several reasons that children might be unable to remain with their parents. These may range from incarceration to drug issues to mental problems and more. Following a divorce, parents may also be unable to care for children. Courts often view the grandparents' homes as stable environments for children because the values and other aspects may be similar their previous living situation. Such an arrangement may be temporary or it may be long term.

Communities and agencies are recognizing this change in the lives of older adults and are offering support. This support might consist of free school supplies and information on child development. The AARP has assembled a guide on education, childcare and legal issues as well as a list of documents grandparents will need when caring for the child, including birth certificates, medical records and powers of attorney.

Laws are changing to reflect a growing understanding of the importance of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. Whether guardianship by grandparents is temporary or permanent, they may wish to speak with an attorney regarding child custody and other issues. Grandparents need to be certain that they are able to make the needed decisions for their grandchildren and that the right paperwork is in place. Grandparents may also wish to consult an attorney regarding their visitation rights in case of divorce even if they do not have custody of their grandchildren.

Source: Deseret News, "At granny's house: More children raised by grandparents than before", Lois M. Collins, August 05, 2014

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