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Expansion of Grandparents' Rights to Custody


By Dion Lefler TOPEKA - A Wichita state senator and family members of abused and displaced children went before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to try to enhance the status of grandparents in child-custody courts.

Senate Bill 52 would automatically establish grandparents as interested parties in cases when their grandchildren are removed from their homes. At present, grandparents only receive notice of and status to be heard in such proceedings when they request it.

Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, who is sponsoring the bill, told the committee the legislation "is pretty simple, allowing grandparents to be notified without a lot of additional hassle."

"We as a state want to keep families together and keep kids out of foster care," Faust-Goudeau said.

She said the bill was the top priority of the "Silver Haired Legislature," a group elected by seniors across the state to recommend bills and help guide state policies on the elderly.

A Pennsylvania statute that requires a grandparent be notified about an impending foster care placement for a grandchild is in place. In Pennsylvania, the court must consider placing a dependent child in a placement that is best suited to the safety, protection and physical, mental, and moral welfare of the child. The court's should consider placement with a relative prior to foster care placement with a third party. In many instances, grandparents may become temporary emergency foster care providers and get custody of the children. However, the reporting of the existence of grandparents usually comes from either the dependent child or the parents. It is important as a grandparent to keep in touch with grandkids to make sure that they haven't been placed into a foster care setting without your knowledge.

There have also been recent changes in the law. If you have questions concerning your rights to custody or visitation as a grandparent or great grandparent, contact the experienced legal team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC {F:P:Site:Phone.}