Lisa L. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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Grandparents' rights nonexistent in guardianship

Over 2.6 million grandparents nationwide, including in Kentucky, have taken on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. A government executive said the heroin and opioid epidemic that is sweeping the country puts enormous pressure on grandparents who want to make sure their grandchildren stay out of the foster system. Sadly, compared to the foster system, grandparents' rights to subsidies for guardianship are nonexistent.

The benefits for children in the care of their grandparents -- rather than a foster family -- include reinforced safety, well-being and stability. Siblings are typically kept together, strengthening their sense of identity and reducing trauma. Cultural and family ties are not jeopardized, and children have permanent homes rather than moving from one foster family to the next.

However, most grandparents did not anticipate situations in which they would have to be primary caregivers at a time when they live on fixed incomes, often in retirement. Despite all the benefits to the children and lessening the pressure on the foster care system, grandparents seem to be punished for caring. Only if parents terminate their parental rights and the children are adopted by the grandparents will they be eligible for subsidies.

To learn about grandparents' rights in Kentucky, a consultation with an experienced family law attorney might be the appropriate place to start. The circumstances of each family are unique, and after an assessment, the lawyer can explain the legal rights of the grandparents and suggest the possible remedies or options available to them. The attorney can work toward the best possible solution for the presented situation.

Source:, "Grandparents as parents: drug epidemic has created challenge for families," George Myers, Sept. 2, 2017

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