Grandparents aren't legally obligated to take care of their grandchildren. As a grandparent, however, you obviously love your grandkids and wouldn't want them to suffer just because their parents can't take care of them. Here are three ways in which you can legally take care of your grandkids:
You are free to adopt your grandkids just as you are free to adopt any other kid who is up for adoption. Adopting your grandkids terminates their legal parents' rights and transfers the parental rights to you; in the eyes of the law, you will be the kid's parents after adopting them.
Adoption is a permanent move; you don't adopt the kids for a few years or until a situation changes. For example, you can't adopt your grandkids until their parent completes their college education. Therefore, if the legal parents are still alive and you would wish them to reclaim custody of their kids later, then adoption may not be the best option. Keep that in mind before starting the adoption process.
Grandparents have the legal right to seek custody of their grandkids. Whether the custody is granted depends on the best interest of the child. For example, you may be awarded custody of your grandkids if the parents are drug addicts who can't take care of their kids and need to go to rehab. However, it's difficult to get custody of your grandchildren just because you don't like their parents' religion.
Getting custody of the grandkids gives you the legal right to live with them and make daily decisions in their lives. For example, you will decide where they go to school, live, and pray. However, it's not a permanent situation because the legal parents can still request, and get, custody of the kids. Don't forget that the legal parents can still visit their kids during the time you have their custody.
The third option is guardianship, which gives you limited authority over the child. Both the parents and the court can grant you guardianship of your grandchildren. In most cases, you will be required to provide for your grandkids' daily needs. A major difference between guardianship and custody is that guardianship involves greater responsibility than custody.
Guardianship can either be permanent or temporary. For example, you may become legal guardians of your grandkids until they reach the age of majority.
These are some of the viable options you can take if you need to take care of your grandchildren and the current setup doesn't allow you to do so. Talk to a family lawyer like those at Caldwell Kennedy & Porter to help you choose the best option for your grandkids.