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Grandparents raising grandkids face family law challenges

Many Colorado grandparents are raising a second generation of children, according to newly released statistics. While there are a number of unique scenarios that lead to this type of family structure, all grandparents who take on a parental role toward their grandchildren face a shared set of legal difficulties in regard to family law issues. The American Association of Retired Persons, in partnership with Generations United, the Children's Defense Fund and others, assert that as many as 5.8 million children are living under the care of grandparents.

These children are being raised by an estimated 2.5 million older Americans, many of whom had far different plans for their golden years. Most will quickly say that the love for their grandchildren eclipses the more difficult aspects of the arrangement. However, they will also admit that things can become incredibly difficult when it comes to issues of child custody and other family law matters.

Many families in this situation struggle to determine the best course of action in regard to the legalities of the arrangement. There are cases in which the parental rights of the parents should be terminated, a scenario that is difficult for all involved. In other cases, grandparents are unsure whether allowing the state to take custody of the children and then place them with the grandparents under foster care is the best arrangement.

Many families choose to simply work with the current circumstances and adapt to changes as necessary. This approach, however, leaves grandparents with little to no legal rights to the children in their care, and can result in those children being removed from the home at the whim of either parent. Grandparents who are concerned about these issues should begin by researching their custody rights under Colorado family law.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "More grandparents are spending their golden years caring for grandchildren," Karen Kane, Dec. 6, 2012

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