Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents can make a very positive impact in a child’s development, especially when the child does not live with his or her immediate family members. Today, we are seeing an increasing number of “grandfamilies” or households in New Jersey in which custodial grandparents fill the role of parent for their grandchildren.

Custodial grandparents are best defined as grandparents who take over as the primary caretaker to their grandchildren.
The 2010 Census showed that one out of every ten  children in this country lives with a grandparent. That Census also disclosed that in the U.S.:

• 7 million grandparents have at least one grandchild under the age of 18 living with them;
• Of those grandparents, 2.7 million were caregivers, meaning they were in charge of providing the basic needs for their grandchildren;
• A little more than half of the caregiving grandparents – 1.7 million – were still actively employed;
• About 670,000 of those caregiving grandparents had a disability.

Grandparents’ Right

All 50 states have laws governing right for grandparents called “grandparents’ visitation statutes”. These laws allow for non-parents, such a grandparents, siblings, etc. to ask the court for the right to spend time with a child (even if the parent wouldn’t allow it). Initially, in New Jersey, grandparents were only allowed to seek visitation privileges if the parents of their grandchildren were deceased, divorced or separated. In 1993, the law was amended to allow grandparents to apply for visitation rights even if the child’s family was intact; proving that the visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Finding New Challenges

Recent studies show that custodial grandparents have a higher level of stress than grandparents who are not caregivers of their grandchildren. Custodial grandparents often face numerous different and difficult situations associated with caring for their grandchildren when compared to the traditional family structure of two birth parents raising and caring for their own children. This high level of stress is believed to be attributed to a number of different factors including the day-to-day difficulties, financial struggles, health related limitations and others. And the stress is so prevalent that the government has even created a website, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, providing links to benefits and assistance, health and safety resources, data and publications and state resources.

In the Child’s Best Interest

The New Jersey laws surrounding custody rights, grandparent custody, visitation and grandparent rights can be complicated. The facts of each case are unique and our lawyers are ready to assist you through every step of the process with the focus on the child’s best interest. Contact family law firm of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. to learn about your grandparent custody rights today. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-389-9533; call today for your free consultation.