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Can a grandparent get custody of their grandchild in Virginia?

Most grandchildren give their love unconditionally to their grandparents. That's because grandparents are a special part of their lives. However, some Virginia grandparents have found it necessary to actually raise their grandchildren due to complex circumstances. However, does the state of Virginia actually allow grandparents to obtain legal custody of their grandchildren?

If a grandparent has assumed all of the parental duties for their grandchildren, then he or she will need to acquire legal custody of the child in order to qualify for any state assistance. Legal custody will allow the grandparent to make all of the important decisions for the child including those for education and medical care. The first step towards legal custody is to request it at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in the city or county that the grandparent lives in.

If the child's parents agree that the grandparent should have child custody, then the parents and the grandparent need to go to court and fill out a Uniform Child Custody Form. Both parents will have the opportunity to address the court and state that they believe that the grandparent should raise the child. If a judge agrees with the request, then a court order granting custody to the grandparent will be issued.

However, if the grandparent is seeking custody of the grandchild without the parent's permission, then the grandparent must go to the juvenile court where the child lives and file for custody. After all of the necessary forms have been finalized, the court will issue a date for a hearing. During the hearing a judge will make his or her custody decision based the evidence provided and on the best interest of the child.

Gaining custody of a grandchild can be a difficult but ultimately rewarding experience for both the grandparent and grandchild. Any Virginia grandparent who believes that they should have custody of their grandchild may want to speak with a child custody attorney in order to get a better understanding of the issues involved in cases like this.

Source:, "Grandparents caring for grandchildren", Accessed Oct. 19, 2015

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