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Leaving kids with grandparents can result in lost parental rights

Dear Clients and Friends,

A state appeals court recently decided that a mother who left her children with a grandparent for several years without ever making clear that the arrangement was temporary had surrendered her parental rights.

In 2015, the mother of 7-year-old “Brittany" and 4-year-old “Brianna” left the children with their father when the couple separated. By 2018, the mother was living with her new husband, visiting the children on occasion but providing no financial support and engaging in no parental decision-making. That same year, the father was charged with several crimes and the kids were left in their paternal grandmother’s care.

The mother was awarded bi-weekly visitation at that point. Meanwhile, she and her husband entered an agreement with the court requiring them to maintain stable employment and to complete a parenting course.

A court-appointed guardian however, recommended that the children be placed permanently with the grandmother. They pointed out that the stepdad had anger issues while the mother, in addition to offering no financial support, rarely called the children or asked to see them over the previous several years and left all parental decisions to the grandmother.

Upon further assessment the trial court found that the mother was unfit, that she’d acted in a matter inconsistent with her constitutionally protected status as a parent, and that it was in the children’s best interest to live with their grandmother.

The court of appeals upheld the decision, ruling that the mother chose to forego her parental rights by leaving her daughters in the grandmother’s care while expressing no intention that the arrangement be temporary.

We continue to invite your calls for a free phone evaluation on any of your family law issues.



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