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Multigenerational households: "Grandfamilies" and child custody

The concept and reality has been termed “grandfamilies,” denoting a family arrangement where family units are headed by grandparents, either living together with multiple family generations or residing solely with their grandchildren.

That family coupling has become increasingly common in Florida and nationally in recent years, owing to diverse reasons, including, centrally, a tough economy that has rendered it difficult for parents to care for their children and necessitated the involvement of grandfathers and grandmothers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, about seven million families across the country are, in one fashion or another, grandfamilies. About half of such families harbor three generations. Millions of others, though, are comprised only of grandparents and their grandchildren, with parents out of the picture because of death, drug problems, incarceration or other factors.

In those latter family arrangements, it is uncommonly the case for the grandparents to have formal child custody over the grandkids. Often, and because it is an imperative, they simply take the children in.

As noted by a recent media article that profiles grandfamilies in California, many of those families -- as well as other such family units across the country, which face similar challenges -- suffer tough economic challenges. On the one hand, many of them have income that places them above the federal poverty line. On the other hand, that hardly implies that they have sufficient money to adequately maintain a household, and the above-the-threshold distinction often renders them ineligible to collect state benefits.

Families are complex social units, with unique characteristics and needs in every case. Often, child custody matters in Florida and elsewhere entail complex considerations and can involve factors relating to so-called grandfamilies and grandparents’ rights. An experienced family law attorney with a proven background in custody laws and processes can answer questions and provide strong advocacy in any custody-related matter.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "More and more, grandparents raising their grandkids," Anita Creamer, Aug. 3, 2013

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