Can a Grandparent Gain Full Custody of a Child?

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‘A friend of mine is going through a situation with her 16 year old daughter. Her daughter got pregnant at 15 and both her daughter and granddaughter have been living with her. It turns out that her daughter told her that her boyfriend raped her and has forced himself on her several times. One day he picked up her daughter and granddaughter and just took them without one word to the mother. My friend called the cops to being her daughter home. Police told her that they could not really do anything because she is 16, willingly went with him and he is the father of the baby. She put a restraining order against the father and the judge said there was not enough evidence for a permanent restraining order. The boyfriend is abusive and lives in a hostile home environment and his parents are separated but living under the same roof. They have money to pay for legal remedies but my friend does not. She wants to get full custody of the granddaughter but doesn’t know what to do. She also wants to leave the state with her daughter and granddaughter. She was just served with visitation papers. Can she move out of state for the protection of her daughter and granddaughter? What are her options? Can she press charges and have him arrested for raping the daughter?’

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

As I understand your question, it looks like you have three main questions: (1) Can the grandmother remove parental rights from the father, (2) What are the steps to take when you suspect domestic
abuse, and (3) Will moving out of state solve any problems?

(1) The court generally does not remove a parent’s rights in favor of a third party unless there are serious problems with that parent. Generally speaking it should be incredibly hard, if not impossible, for a grandparent to take custody away from their child. However some states are starting to recognize grandparents’ rights, usually for visitation. In this case, a consultation with a family law attorney in your jurisdiction would be helpful.

(2) If there is an existing order for protection, or an order that has expired, the daughter can seek either another protection order from the court or an expansion to the existing order.

(3) If this family moves out of state, especially if they do not consult the father, it could be considered kidnapping, especially if there is a custody order in place. Generally, it is best to work out the issues so that both parents can have a relationship with the child.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.