Grandparents’ Rights: Securing Custody of Grandchildren in Indiana

In the state of Indiana, grandparents can play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren, and in certain circumstances, they may seek legal custody. While the law generally favors parental rights, there are specific situations where grandparents can petition for custody of their grandchildren. Explore legal advice concerning your rights as a grandparent aiming for custody of your grandchild to best understand the process in Indiana. This blog post will explore the legal avenues and considerations for grandparents seeking custody in Indiana. 

Indiana law recognizes several grounds under which grandparents may pursue custody of their grandchildren. Parental unfitness is one ground that the court will consider. If the child’s parents are deemed unfit to provide proper care due to neglect, abuse, substance abuse, or incarceration, grandparents can seek custody by demonstrating that they can provide a safe and stable environment for the child. If a parent has abandoned the child or has been absent from the child’s life for an extended period, grandparents may petition for custody to ensure the child’s well-being and continuity of care. There are some cases in which grandparents who have been granted court-ordered visitation rights may use that as a basis to seek full custody if circumstances warrant a change in the child’s living arrangements. Grandparents may be able to demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist, such as a strong emotional bond with the grandchild or the inability of the parents to provide a stable home environment, that justifies granting them custody.

To pursue custody of a grandchild in Indiana, grandparents must follow a specific legal process. First, grandparents must file a formal petition with the court, outlining the grounds for their custody request and providing supporting evidence. It is common for the grandparents to enter into the custody proceeding as intervenors. The court will look to Indiana Code §31-14-13-2 factors for custody determination as well as Indiana Code §31-14-13-2.5 consideration of de facto custodian factors. Next, the court will review the petition and may order a custody evaluation, which could involve interviews, home visits, and assessments by a guardian ad litem or other court-appointed professionals. If the court deems the grandparents’ petition valid, a hearing will be scheduled where both the grandparents and the parents will have the opportunity to present their cases. The judge will weigh the evidence and make a determination on whether to grant the grandparents’ custody request, considering the best interests of the child. 

It is important to note that the burden of proof rests with the grandparents to demonstrate that their custody of the grandchild is warranted and in the child’s best interests. Securing custody of a grandchild in Indiana requires a compelling case that showcases the grandparents’ ability to provide a stable, nurturing, and safe environment for the child. By understanding the legal landscape, following the proper procedures, and seeking professional legal counsel, grandparents can increase their chances of successfully obtaining custody and ensuring the well-being of their grandchildren.

Navigating the legal process of obtaining grandparent custody can be complex and emotionally charged. It is highly recommended that grandparents seek the guidance and representation of an experienced family law attorney who specializes in grandparent rights and custody cases. An attorney can provide invaluable advice, advocate on your behalf, and ensure that all necessary documentation and evidence are properly prepared and presented to the court. Ciyou & Associates, P.C. has experienced family law attorneys who navigate custody matters throughout Indiana. We are here to help you with your custody proceedings. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C., and this blog is not intended as specific legal advice or solicitation of services, as this is an advertisement.


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