The opioid epidemic is a problem all over the country. Here in Rhode Island, some grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren after the parents have become addicted to drugs. However, navigating the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) as a grandparent can be difficult, and some grandparents have gone as far as to call the process “hell.” While dealing with these issues is stressful even under the best of circumstances, an experienced Rhode Island grandparents’ rights attorney can help you through the process.
Which Rights Do Grandparents Have?
Generally, parents are in charge of all of the decision making regarding their children, including whether their grandparents are allowed to see them. However, there are some circumstances in which the court may grant visitation to grandparents even over the objection of the parents.
Family courts use a standard of the “best interest of the child” to make their determinations. Therefore, in order to get visitation, the judge must believe it would be in the best interest of the child. However, the grandparents must also meet four other criteria.
First, the grandparents need to prove that they are physically and mentally capable of caring for a child. Second, they must have reasonably attempted to visit the child within the last three months but without success. Third, the parent or parents must have used unreasonable means to prevent the child from visiting the grandparents. Finally, the grandparents must have tried to find alternative solutions to this problem that have also been unsuccessful.
The visitation provisions above presume that the parent(s) who have custody of the child are fit parents. The situation becomes very different when the parents are allegedly abusing or neglecting the child, whether due to drug addiction or other reasons. If the court agrees that the parents are not able to care for the child safely, DCYF will often look to grandparents or other “kinship care” (care by friends and relatives) first for custody of the children. As above, though, judges will look at all of the circumstances to determine what would be in the best interests of the children. If the child does have a fit parent who is able to care for the child, their rights to the child will usually prevail over the grandparents’ rights. However, everything is dependent on the specific circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you make your case persuasively to the judge.
What Should Concerned Grandparents Do?
If you are in Rhode Island, and you are concerned that any child – whether your grandchild or someone else – is being abused or neglected, call DCYF at 1(800) RI-CHILD as soon as possible. You should call 911 if the kids are in immediate danger. Once the immediate emergency has passed, you should contact a skilled Rhode Island grandparents’ rights attorney. A lawyer can help you make your case to the judge for custody or visitation.
Contact a Knowledgeable Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation or custody of your grandchild, a skilled family law attorney can help you exercise any rights you may have. Our experienced attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, can help you try to attain a favorable result for your grandchild. Call us today at (401) 300-4055 or use the contact form on this website for your free consultation!