December 7, 2021
Grandparent Custody in Ohio When Parents Suffer from Addiction
Written by Erb Legal LLC
When a child’s biological parents suffer from addiction, mental health problems, and other issues, they can no longer care for their children properly. In this case, alternative arrangements must be made with the children’s best interests in mind. Grandparent custody is one of them. This allows children to be cared for by someone within their own family to ensure a stable home life.
Grandparent Custody Must Be In the Child’s Best Interest
The court is only interested in the child’s best interests. Therefore, if grandparent custody benefits the child because their biological parent can no longer care for them, then custody may be granted to a grandparent.
Factors That Determine a Child’s Best Interest
Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04(F)(1) describes factors considered by the court when it determines what is in the best interests of a child, including:
- The wishes of the child’s parents, including an agreement
- The wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court
- The child’s interaction and interrelationship with parents, siblings, grandparents, and anyone else who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all people involved in the situation
- Whether the parents have been convicted or pleaded guilty to a crime involving a child.
How a Parent’s Addiction Negatively Impacts a Child
There may be other factors considered, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved. A 2012 study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina stated many ways that a child could be negatively impacted by drug-abusing parents, including:
- 1. Academic and Cognitive Functioning – The study showed that on average, children with substance abusing parents showed weaker performance in reading, spelling, and math
- 2. Emotional, Behavioral, and Social Adjustment – Children showed increased rates of anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior
- 3. Substance Involvement – Children are 53% are more prone to substance abuse by young adulthood
How a Grandparent Can Gain Child Custody
A grandparent may be awarded custody of a child if the natural or biological parents are “unsuitable” or “unfit.” However, it is not easy to get the court to deem a parent is unfit.
How The Court Determines If a Parent Is Unfit
You must have proof that the parent is causing serious and direct harm to the child. Drug and alcohol addiction are common reasons for the court to determine that parents are unfit to provide for their children.
Allowing a child to watch scary movies or stay up all night is not a reason the court would deem a parent unfit. Furthermore, the court cannot discriminate against someone who simply can’t afford luxuries for their child.
The Parent Can Agree To Grandparent Custody
A parent may also voluntarily give custody to a grandparent. When seeking custody without an agreement by the parents, the grandparents must prove to the court that the parents are unfit.
A Child Custody Attorney Can Help
It’s essential to work with a child custody attorney to verify that parents are unfit to care for their children. Showing that grandparent custody is necessary can be difficult. You must have proof of drug or alcohol addiction and how that addiction negatively affects the child.
An attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence and get the court involved with ordering drug and alcohol testing for the parents. You might even be able to get temporary orders of child custody so that the grandparents can provide care while the parents are being evaluated.