Grandparents Custody Rights
Can Grandparents get custody of Grandchildren?
Yes. It is possible for grandparents in Georgia to get custody of their grandchildren. However, it should be noted that this is often not an easy task. In Georgia, the law generally presumes that it is best for the children to remain in the custody of their parents. Accordingly, grandparents would have to provide clear and convincing evidence showing that an award of custody to the grandparents is in the best interest of the child or children and will best promote their welfare and happiness. It is important to note that this area of the law is changing rapidly. In 2018, the statue governing grandparent visitation was held unconstitutional. In 2020, the statute governing grandparent custody was held unconstitutional as well.
How can Grandparents get Custody?
As noted above, courts in Georgia have a strong presumption in favor of keeping the children with their parents. This is because parents have a constitutional right under the United States and Georgia Constitutions to the care and custody of their children. This right should only be infringed upon in the most compelling circumstances.
Prior to the recent law change in 2020 where O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1 was held unconstitutional, grandparents did not have to show evidence that a parent was unfit to be awarded custody of their grandchildren. Instead, Grandparents had to establish by clear and convincing evidence that awarding custody to the parent would cause either physical harm or significant, long-term emotional harm to the child.