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Parental addiction may lead to child custody in grandparents

The role of grandparents in child custody matters in Texas has increased steadily with the growth over recent years of the opioid crisis. Nothing can be more crippling to a parent's caregiving skills than addiction to heavy pain killers. It is not a new phenomenon for grandparents to be drawn into a parenting role for their grandchildren, but it is now happening with much more frequency. The phenomenon also results in an increasing number of court cases in which parents are fighting grandparents for child custody.

The grandparents play a critical role in such intercessions because they are likely preventing placement of the children in foster homes. Instead of that far-reaching change in the lives of the children, living with and under the care of their grandparents can be a very familiar environment, thus minimizing their trauma. In addition, the grandparents and the parents are more likely to agree and cooperate on a transition back to the parents when one or both have completed a rehabilitation program and stopped drug-taking.

However, in some circumstances, the parent who feels that he/she is fully healed and now ready to take back the children that the parent reluctantly abandoned several months earlier may be self-delusional. It often happens that both parents are nursing themselves back to normalcy. The scourge of opiate addiction occurs on a primal level where the addict can hardly be a good judge of his/her ability to function without relapse, at least in the early stages of recovery.

Such conflicts may lead to the indignant parent(s) filing a formal child custody case in a Texas court to get the children back. Sometimes, the grandparents, being fully aware that the parents are not ready to assume physical custody, will first file a petition to confirm custody in themselves. In child custody cases with drug addiction factors, the court will look kindlier toward grandparents to ably carry on until things are more settled. However, where the facts do not involve opioid or other hard drug usage, grandparents normally are not favored for child custody over the natural parent(s). As usual, each case will boil down to the particular facts at hand.

Source:, "Grandparents forced to raise grandkids as opioid crisis worsens", Justin Ward, Oct. 27, 2017

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