In Kentucky and other states, individuals may have the right to petition for custody rights to their grandchildren. A court could be willing to grant custody rights to grandparents in the event that the child's parent is abusive, unable to care for him or her or has passed away. The court hearing the matter will also need to determine that granting custody to a grandparent is in the child's best interest.
People will likely need to show that their grandchildren's parents are not fit to retain custody of them. This is because courts tend to favor allowing parents to retain custody whenever possible, and the law generally believes that grandparent custody could infringe on that right. In fact, the Supreme Court found that a Washington law violated a parent's right to raise a child without interference.
To prove that a parent is not fit to raise his or her child, a grandparent could offer evidence of neglect. For instance, a grandparent could tell the court how the parent leaves a young child home alone without supervision for hours each day. Other examples of neglect might include not feeding the child or being physically or emotionally abusive. In the event that a grandparent does not receive custody of a grandchild, it may still be possible to ask for and receive visitation rights.
When creating custody orders, a court needs to look out for the best interest of the children. Grandparents who are seeking custody will ideally bring written statements, photos or video evidence showing that a child has been neglected by his or her parents. This may make it easier for a judge to determine that a grandparent should be granted custody. An attorney may help a grandparent gather evidence to prepare for a child custody hearing.