Georgia grandparents seeking custody of their grandchildren may be interested in the way in which states determine grandparent custody. Prior to 2000, laws allowed grandparents to seek greater interaction with grandchildren after the parents divorced.
In 2000, a case that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Troxel v. Granville, changed the way grandparent rights were perceived. In that case, the court upheld the constitutional right of a parent to raise their child. Laws concerning grandparent custody, likewise, uphold the natural right of a parent.
On occasion, a grandparent may seek custody of his or her grandchild. When this happens, the grandparent must be able to prove the parent might be unfit to raise the child. Reasons a parent might be considered unfit for child custody include mental illness, child abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction.
In cases where the grandparents raise their grandchildren, the children may come to see the grandparents as assuming the parental roles. Taking the children away from the grandparents might be seen as disruptive. In such cases, the court may rule in favor of the grandparents retaining custody of the child, even if there is no doubt that the parent is fit to raise the child.
The courts may consider whether the grandchild prefers to live with his or her grandparent rather than a parent. The degree of involvement of the parent in his or her child's life may factor heavily in the court's decision-making process.
When circumstances lead a grandparent to seek custody of their grandchild against the wishes of the parent, it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney. The attorney may assist the grandparent in filing the custody petition with the family court. In addition, the attorney may help the grandparent compile reasons that support the custody request.