Due to precautions related to COVID-19, we have expanded our options for remote consultations. Please contact our office to discuss whether a full phone consultation or video conference is appropriate for your situation.

Experienced Legal Counsel When You Need It Most

Grandparents’ authority and parental boundaries

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Child Protective Services

Child Protective Services (CPS) often looks to relatives or trusted adults, including grandparents, when seeking loving homes for children in need. Grandparents are frequently chosen due to their existing bond, love and familiarity with the family.

When granted Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC), grandparents become their grandchildren’s primary caregivers and decision-makers. However, it is essential for them to understand and respect the boundaries of parental rights. The court’s decision on terminating parental rights significantly influences the extent of these responsibilities and rights.

PMC with termination of parental rights

When the court terminates the parents’ rights, it means they no longer have any legal obligations regarding the child. As the appointed permanent managing conservator, a grandparent’s duty becomes protecting the child from the birth parents, if necessary. This decision grants them full responsibility for the child’s well-being and care.

PMC without termination of parental rights

In cases where the court decides not to terminate the parents’ rights, the situation differs. Birth parents may retain certain contact with the child as determined by the court order. It is crucial to note that birth parents or relatives can potentially come forward at any time until the child reaches their 18th birthday. They can petition the court to obtain specific rights, including custody of the child. This possibility keeps the door open for potential changes in the future.

Access to benefits and support

As the PMC, a grandparent may apply for Medicaid coverage for the child. However, obtaining other benefits such as SNAP food benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) requires separate approval. In cases where the court orders the birth parents to pay child support, it becomes their responsibility to fulfill this obligation. As the PMC, a grandparent is tasked with enforcing and attempting to collect child support if the parents fail to meet their financial obligations. This may involve hiring an attorney and petitioning the court for assistance.

Informal support arrangements

If the birth parents are not court-ordered to pay child support, alternative arrangements may be agreed upon. These arrangements can include the birth parents providing financial assistance informally. They may also provide support for the child’s needs in other ways. For example, they can accompany them to doctor’s appointments or contribute to transportation costs.

The court’s decision on whether to terminate the parental rights of the child’s parents carries significant weight in determining the extent of your authority and the parents’ involvement. By grasping the impact of this determination, you can make informed decisions that will shape your grandchild’s future.