You and your spouse likely did not plan on raising your grandchildren yourselves. But now that you are, you probably have heard of guardianship as a way of establishing and protecting your rights over the grandkids.
You should know, however, that obtaining guardianship over grandchildren is not easy. In Delaware (and every other state), the law gives special consideration to a child’s parents. Unless you can show that each of their parents is unfit in some way, the court is very unlikely to grant you guardianship. The legal standards are high. Examples of an unfit parent include one with a history of committing physical or sexual child abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, or untreated mental illness. If you are arguing for guardianship because you and the children’s primary parent don’t get along, or you don’t approve of their parenting style, you will not be successful.
The duties of guardianship
The reason contested guardianship cases can be so challenging is that it conveys great responsibilities upon the guardian. As the guardian of your grandchildren, you would have the right to make decisions about their education, medical care, where they will live, and general welfare. You would largely replace their parents in these matters, though the court could grant them visitation rights. The judge can also order the parents to pay child support.
Know what it takes to become a guardian
We do not mean to discourage you from seeking guardianship over your grandchildren, especially if you are already their primary caregiver. You just need to understand that going to court to obtain guardianship can be an emotionally difficult process with no guarantee of success.