Why are you raising your grandchild?
You're raising your grandchild because your grandkid's parent is using drugs, is in prison, an alcoholic or can't be bothered taking care of his or her own child.
Make it legal.
Many grandparents think that they already have guardianship over their grandkids because the parent signed a notarized statement "giving the child" to them. In fact, those notarized statements can be revoked-- that is, withdrawn, at any time and aren't worth much more than the paper they are printed on.
How to Make it Legal.
To make it legal you have to file a Petition for Guardianship with the Nevada Family Court. Guardianship packets are available at the Family Court Self Help Center or on the Internet. The packets include many papers and a lot of steps; so if it is too confusing, you might consider hiring a lawyer to obtain your guardianship.
What do you have to prove?
You must prove that your grandchild is in need of a guardianship because his or her parents are unfit. Showing that you can provide more for your grandchild: better school opportunities, nicer clothes, better lifestyle, isn't enough. You must show that there is something wrong with your grandchild's parent or parents that make them unable to properly care for your grandchild.
Does being poor make my grandchild's parents unfit?
No. Poverty is not the basis for unfitness of a parent. In Nevada, the law prioritizes relationships between parents and children. The Court would rather the child is being cared for by a parent as opposed to a grandparent and parents have legal priority. If the parents are poor, they should apply for welfare benefits: food stamps, housing and TANF. Being poor does not make a parent unfit.
The Court is convinced the parents are unfit, now what?
The Court will grant you a general guardianship over the child. That general guardianship will continue until one or both of the parents become fit and apply to terminate the guardianship or the child turns 18.
What if the parents agreed to the Guardianship and now what their child back?
If the parents consented to the guardianship at the time that the guardianship was originally requested and if the parents are now fit, the court will terminate the guardianship and order the return of the child to the parents. If the parents did not consent to the guardianship or fought the guardianship and lost and now want the child back, the parents must show not only that they are no longer unfit, but that it is in the best interests of the child to be returned to the parent as opposed to staying with the grandparents.
What rights and obligations do I have as a Nevada Guardian?
You are acting in place of the natural parent. You have the right to obtain medical care, enroll the child in school and do all the other things parents get to do. You also have the right to request child child support from one or both of the natural parents and apply for health benefits. You have the obligation to provide food, housing, clothing and an education to your "ward"--the child that you have legal guardianship over.
Why should I make it legal?
If you have been caring for a grandchild in your home for an extended period of time, usually at some point, someone is going to require that you provide them with a copy of your letters of guardianship. It is just a matter of time. If you don't make it legal, then there is nothing to stop mom or dad from rolling through the door one afternoon and retrieving their child. You can call the police, but neither the police nor the court can usually stop someone from retrieving their child--unless you are the court appointed legal guardian
What's the downside of making it legal?
Little children are cute and relatively easy for grandparents to manage. Once those little children start growing up they become difficult moody teenagers. Make sure that you are prepared to handle the teenager years and the problems that come with parenting teeenagers. Once you become your grandchild's legal guardian, you cannot send them back to their parents unless the parents consent to the termination of the guardianship. You cannot turn them over to the State to take care of, without possibly facing charges of child abandonment. Know what you are getting yourself into before making it legal and make sure you are in it for potentially the long haul.