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"Navigating the Legal Process: What Every Grandparent should Know"

 Grandfather holding his grandchild.                     Photo by OC Gonzalez

     Navigating the legal process can be daunting.  This is what every grandparent should know when facing the DCS removal of grandchildren.  As a grandparent what legal step should you take if your grandchildren have been taken by the Department of Children and Family Services?  If you find yourself in this predicament, I have listed below the recommended legal steps you should take for the best possible outcome.

Contact an Attorney
     It is advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in child welfare cases, as they can help guide you through the legal process and represent your interest in court.  Hiring a lawyer who specializes in child welfare cases is an important step in protecting the interest of your grandchildren and ensuring that their rights are being respected.  An attorney can provide you with guidance and support throughout the legal process, help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and represent you in court.  They can also help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that you comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
     It is important to choose an attorney who has experience in child welfare cases and is knowledgeable about the laws and policies in your state.  You can ask for referrals from friends, family, or local bar associations, or conduct a search online.  It is also a good idea to schedule a consultation with the attorney to discuss your case to determine whether they are a good fit for you and your family.  Having an experienced attorney by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, so be sure to take the time to find the right one for this very important situation.

Attend all Court Hearings
     While navigating the legal process be sure to attend all court hearings related to your grandchildren's case, as this will demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and your willingness to be involved in the process.  During court hearings, the judge will hear from various parties involved in the case, such as DCS, the children's parents, and any other relevant individuals.  The judge will also consider evidence and arguments presented by each side before making a decision.  It is important to be prepared for these hearings and have a clear understanding of your position and the evidence you wish to present.
     By attending all court hearings, you can stay informed about the status of your grandchildren's case and provide input and support.  This will also show the judge that you are committed to being a positive and active participant in the process, which can have a positive impact on the outcome of the case.

Gather Information and Evidence
     You should gather any relevant information and evidence that may support your case, such as medical or school records, witness statements, or other relative documentation.  To build a strong case and support your position in court, it is important to gather any relevant information and evidence that can help demonstrate your commitment to your grandchildren's well-being and the reasons why they should remain in your care. 
     It is also a good idea to keep detailed records of your interactions with DCS, the children's parents, and any other relevant individuals.  This can help you demonstrate your involvement in your grandchildren's lives and your efforts to address any issues that may have led to their removal.  This also ensures that you make DCS accountable for their actions as well.  Their caseload is very high and while they have good people working within their department, there also remains the fact that there is a notable amount of corruption within their system.  Don't trust everything they say because there is a considerable amount of funding received via their removal process by the federal government.
     Having a solid body of evidence and information can help strengthen your case and support your position in court.  It can also help you prepare for any questions or objections that may be raised by the other parties involved in the case.  By gathering information and evidence, you are taking a crucial step in advocating for your grandchildren's well-being and working for a positive outcome for your family.

Consider seeking Guardianship or Custody
     You may consider seeking legal guardianship or custody of your grandchildren, which would give you the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf and ensure that they are in a safe and stable environment.  Guardianship gives you the legal authority to make decisions about their physical, emotional, and financial needs.  Custody, on the other hand, involves having physical control of the children and being responsible for their day-to-day care.
     It is important to understand that seeking guardianship or custody is a complex legal process and requires a thorough understanding of the relevant laws and regulations.  You will need to provide evidence to support your case and demonstrate that you are capable of providing a safe and stable environment for your grandchildren.
     Seeking guardianship or custody can be a powerful way to advocate for your grandchildren and ensure that they are in a safe and supportive environment.  However, it is also important to consider the potential consequences and impact on your relationship with the children's parents and other family members.  Before making a decision, it is advisable to discuss your options with an attorney and carefully weigh the pros and cons.

Participate in Services and Support
     DCS may offer services and support to help address any issues that may have led to the removal of your grandchildren.  It is important to participate in these programs and demonstrate your willingness to make positive changes.  Work with DCS to address any concerns because ultimately they are responsible for the children who have been removed from their homes.  They will be working to resolve any issues that may have led to the removal and to determine the best course of action for the children.
     It is important to understand that DCS is not an adversary, but rather a partner in ensuring the best outcome for the children.  By working together with DCS and addressing any concerns they may have, you can demonstrate your commitment to your grandkids and build a positive relationship with the agency.
      Navigating the legal process may involve participating in services or programs recommended by DCS, such as counseling, parent education classes, or drug treatment.  It is important to be proactive in addressing any issues and demonstrating a willingness to make a change to improve the situation.  By working with DCS and following their recommendations, you can build a stronger case for reunifying with your grandchildren and ensuring their safety, stability, and happiness.

About Jacqueline P. Warlick

"Jacqueline P. Warlick, the mastermind behind "A Senior Citizen Guide for College,"
has been leading the charge for higher education for senior citizens for the past 12 years.  With a wealth of knowledge on college tuition waivers and discounts at campuses nationwide, she is the go-to guru for baby boomers looking to continue their education journey."