Nowadays more and more grandparents are raising the grandchildren which brings up the issue of a grand parent obtaining custody of a child. Take for example, a grandmother who has been raising her grandchildren for the past few years due to the parent’s use of drugs and alcohol and unstable life. The grandmother acts as the mother of the grandchildren in all aspects including bathing, feeding, taking to school, attending school events, providing a safe home, putting them to bed, etc. The parents of the children are never around and if they happen to be around they give the children a few minutes of their attention and then go about their own lives. This is a common situation that many grandparents are facing and they do not know how to handle gaining custody over the children so that the children are protected. Although the grandparents have been the sole provider and have been raising the children, under Michigan law there is very little that the grandparents can do to gain custody unless they first have a guardianship over the children.
In order to raise the issue of child custody the grandparents need to have standing. By getting a guardianship over the children they would have standing to bring a child custody claim under MCL 722.26(b) which states:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2), a guardian or limited guardian of a child has standing to bring an action for custody of the child as provided in this act.
(2) A limited guardian of a child does not have standing to bring an action for custody of the child if the parent or parents of the child have substantially complied with a limited guardianship placement plan regarding the child entered into as required by section 5205 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.5205, or section 424a of former 1978 PA 642.
(3) If the circuit court does not have prior continuing jurisdiction over the child, a child custody action brought by a guardian or limited guardian of the child shall be filed in the circuit court in the county in which the probate court appointed the guardian.
(4) Upon the filing of a child custody action brought by a child’s guardian or limited guardian, guardianship proceedings concerning that child in the probate court are stayed until disposition of the child custody action. A probate court order concerning the guardianship of the child continues in force until superseded by a circuit court order. If the circuit court awards custody of the child, it shall send a copy of the judgment or order of disposition to the probate court in the county that appointed the child’s guardian or limited guardian.
(5) If a child’s guardian or limited guardian brings a child custody action, the circuit court shall request the supreme court in accordance with section 225 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.225, to assign the probate court judge who appointed that guardian or limited guardian to serve as the circuit court judge and hear the child custody action.
Even if a grand parent is granted limited guardianship the grand parent will have standing to bring a custody action. Note that when the limited guardianship is established the court will implement a placement plan. Quite frequently an unstable parent will not follow the plan and at this point the grand parent will have a basis for getting custody. If the plan is followed than it would be likely that the court would restore custody with the parent. One needs to remember that while the limited guardianship is in effect the custody lies with the guardian until futher order of the court.
If you are a grandparent that is raising your grandchildren it is important that you contact an attorney to go over the best options for you to gain custody of the children. If you ever have any questions regarding grandparents and child custody issues call me at my office (248) 380-8787 or on my cell phone at (248) 672-6112. The main focus of my practice is family law in Livingston, Oakland, and Wayne County. I have many clients in Novi, Northville, Plymouth, Farmington Hills,F armington, Howell, Brighton, Milford, South Lyon, Commerce, and Highland.