How do I get custody of my grandchildren?
More and more New Hampshire grandparents are finding themselves in the position of raising grandsons and granddaughters. There are many reasons that grandparents are awarded “custody” of their grandkids (in most cases known as “guardianship of minors”), including: the parents are handicapped, the parents have drug or alcohol problems, the parents have neglected or abused the children, the parents are in prison, or the parents are teenagers and are too young to care for their children.
If your son or daughter is unable to raise their kids, and/or you have legitimate concern for the safety and/or well-being of your grandchildren, you need to take the following steps to protect them:
How New Hampshire Residents Can Get Guardianship of Grandchildren – Step 1:
Hire an experienced family law attorney that you trust to help you file for guardianship. It’s particularly important to do this if your son or daughter opposes the guardianship. Your lawyer will file a Petition for Guardianship of Minor in the New Hampshire Circuit Court – Family Division, typically based on where the children reside or are located. Circuit Court locations include Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Goffstown, Merrimack, Hooksett, Franklin, Hillsborough, Derry, Brentwood, and Salem.
How New Hampshire Residents Can Get Guardianship of Grandchildren – Step 2:
What if your grandchildren are living in a situation where they may be injured or harmed? Your family law attorney will request in the Petition for Guardianship emergency orders, called “ex parte” orders – to grant you temporary guardianship. This will permit you to take immediate custody of the kids. The court typically decides the same day whether it will issue emergency orders. The court will also schedule a hearing on the guardianship.
How New Hampshire Residents Can Get Guardianship of Grandchildren – Step 3:
Meet with your lawyer to prepare for the guardianship hearing, which both you and the parents will attend. At this Hearing you, your son or daughter, the other parent, and your witnesses will take the stand, give testimony, and answer questions posed by both attorneys. Your testimony and that of your witnesses is crucial. It is this testimony that the judge will use to issue orders as to whether a permanent guardianship over your grandchildren will be granted.
Please Note: There may be some limited circumstances in which a grandparent may participate in and seek “custody” of grandchildren in a “custody” case in the Circuit Court – Family Division. To find out if your situation fits within these circumstances, you need to discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney.