Grandparents as guardians

Grandparents as guardians
5 min read
14 March 2023

Grandparents as guardians

Can a parent voluntarily transfer custody to their parents? And what does it look like if a child's parents die, will it be the grandparents who automatically get custody then? This is probably something that many grandparents think about and worry about. You often have strong ties to your grandchildren and think about what their lives will be like. In most cases, you also feel ready to take over custody of the grandchildren if their parents were to pass away or somehow become unable to care for the children.

"The truth is that in each individual case, it is up to the District Court to decide on the custody of the children if the regular guardians, the parents, can no longer be considered"

According to the Parental Code, however, there is nothing to suggest that grandparents, in particular, would come into question before anyone else as acting guardians as it is called (it is only parents who can legally be guardians). On the other hand, it also does not appear that they would not be considered guardians if the parents are unable to exercise custody of the child or if the parents pass away.

The rules of the Parental Code are applicable in the matter of who can be appointed for the assignment as a specially appointed guardian. The person appointed must be suitable to ensure that the child receives care, security, and a good upbringing according to ch. 6. § 10 a FB, the parental code. The wording is linked to what children are entitled to according to the basic provision in ch. 6. § 1 FB. When choosing a guardian, consideration may be given to, among other things, the child's age and development as well as the personal connection to the intended guardian. No preference for, for example, relatives of the child is indicated. It is important that the proposed person has knowledge of what it means to be a guardian and is suitable for the assignment. It is not necessary for the child to live with a specially-appointed guardian.

It is the social welfare committee in the municipality where the child is registered or resides that recruits and appoints a specially appointed guardian. The social welfare board submits an application to the district court, which makes the decision. The social service recruits appoint and are responsible for specially appointed guardians. Guardianship cannot be transferred to someone else on their own initiative, not even to the other guardian, but a decision is always required in the district court, and it is the child's best interests that govern the decision, not the parents' will. Here we go through a couple of different scenarios and what consequences they can have regarding custody. How To Apply For Grandparent's Rights?

If one of the parents dies

If one of the child's parents dies, it is usually the surviving parent who gets custody of the child, even if he or she did not have custody before. If the parent objects to the custody of the child, however, the court must appoint a specially appointed guardian. If there are no obvious candidates, the National Board of Health and Welfare is usually asked to carry out an investigation to appoint a suitable acting guardian. 

If there are grandparents in the picture who want to take care of the children, they have a good chance of becoming specially appointed guardians. They must then apply for this to the district court and argue why they consider themselves suitable as specially appointed guardians. There are also situations where a child lived with, for example, the grandparents despite custody of the child being awarded to the father. 

The age factor

Sometimes grandparents are questioned as guardians because of their age. You should be able to be a good guardian for the child until he turns 18. It is of course different from case to case, but of course, age and state of health are taken into account. There are also cases where a child wanted to live with a grandparent and was allowed to do so, but where another younger relative or close relative was simultaneously appointed as specially appointed guardian.

Contact us if you want to know more

Nothing is set in stone in these situations, but each case is assessed individually. As a grandparent, you have no more or less right than anyone else to be appointed a specially appointed guardian if the parents are no longer in the picture. If you have more questions about this, please feel free to contact us and we can help you investigate your particular situation.

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zobia 31
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