30 answers

Fighting for Custody of My Grandson

I am raising my grandson and I have had him since 2006, his mother which is my daughter
has made no attempt to raise him or help out financially. I feel that it would be in the best intrest in the child if I become the legal guardian, my home and lifestyle is a secure and stable home. What rights does his mom have? I am afraid to lose this battle simply because she is his mom, even though she has not been the one raising him.
She has even filed her income taxes with him as her dependent, even though I am the one that has been taking care of his personal needs as well as day care. What right do I really have?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

This is a tough one, since she is an adult and the biological mom, she has the rights. It's not fair that irresponsible people get to by parents but they do! Good luck. You cnna still be a VERY strong influence.

1 mom found this helpful

You just need a really great lawyer. If she is on drugs that will go against her and request only supervised visitations. Do not expect her to ever give you support because even if ordered she most likely wont give you a dime. You don't say how you ended up having him with you. Maybe she would let you adopt him.

More Answers

Hi M.,

I used to work for CPS as the guardianship social worker for our county. I know this----you are saving your grandson's life. I am sure you know this too.

You can get the paperwork to file for temporary legal guardianship from the county courthouse and you can be granted temporary guard. in 10 days. The paperwork is a little complicated and it might help to hire a paralegal to help you fill them out. Make sure you find one that has experience with this. Hiring an attorney can be expensive and I'm not sure you need one really unless your daughter contests the guardanship. She can contest, but I am sure you have mounds of reasons for wanting to do this and the guardianship paperwork will give you space to list them. Your daughter will have to prove that the things you mention are not true. I would not mention to your daughter that you are doing this. If you do, she might come and get your grandson.

Once you get the guardianship, you have full legal custody. Your daughter has the right to have input on medical decisions and educationsl decisions but visitation will be entirely up to you. You should also file for Non-needy Relative which are funds distributed monthly to you to raise our grandson. If you feel uncomfortable with taking the money (usually between $300-500/month, plus he will get Medi-cal, save it in an account for him. It is better and easier to get it now than to find out he needs counseling or some other special service in a couple of years and then try to get it. The guardianship is absolutely necessary 100%, no doubt if the child is living with you and the biggest reason is that you cannot get medical treatment, other than a doctor's visit without parental consent.

CPS would rather place children with family members. You will most likely win this as long as your life is going okay because they will check to make sure your home is okay, anyone living with you is okay, you have no criminal record of harming a child etc.

If you want to send me a personal message through Mamasource, I will give you my phone number and help you that way. Otherwise, it'll take too long to type and might bore everyone else.


4 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

Sounds like a very tough situation. I would think that if your daughter does not live with you and makes no attempt to see her child than you might have a case. That would mean abandonment. Sounds like she just wants a tax write-off to me. Do you claim either one of them? That is a big issue if you are the one raising this child but he lives with you and she is claiming him. May get harder if she lives in the same household though. Not easy to prove that you have been paying for everything and raising the child.

I certainly would fight for your rights because you seem to have a huge interest in the child and what she is doing is illegal is she does not even reside in the same residence!

I understand you being afraid but if she has made NO attempt to contact your grandson or support that child what so ever than you certainly have a good more in your favor.

Good luck! I'll be rooting for you!

2 moms found this helpful


I suggest you talk to a lawyer asap. Let this person know everything that you have been going through and what you are seeking. Once you file a petition with the courts for full custody, you can prove your case to the judge that you are the one with the most stable, loving home for this child. It is whatever is in the best interest of the child. I think that you have an excellent shot at full custody. Good luck to you and God bless you for caring for your precious grandchild!


1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.~

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

It's so wonderful that you are in this childs' life. Your love may be the only thing that will keep her safe :o)


:o) N.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like you love your grandson a great deal and I'm sure you are concerned to do what is best for him. Are you sure its going to be a fight? You don't say a whole lot about your daughter - whether she is drug addicted, mentally ill, just immature, or whether she is physically dangerous to your grandson. The reason I wonder about those issues is that I would be concerned not only about his long-term safety, but also about his relationship with his mother. I wouldn't want him to see a "fight" and the possible anger between his mom and grandma. A kid really needs, if at all possible, to know and have a relationship with his mother. I would be interested in in keeping some kind of cordial and functional relationship between the child and his mother, even if it were determined that living with her was not in his best interest, and I would try to approach the whole situation in a way that not only considers where it is best for him to live but also how to keep him involved with his mother to whatever degree is safe. If things get ugly between you and your daughter, this will inevitably hurt your grandson, wherever he ends up living. And he will need to be able to see you both in a good light (even if his mom is a wreck, he needs to be able to love her without feeling like it means he is disloyal to you). So I would not only get a lawyer involved to help with the legal issues, but get a social worker or therapist involved to help you consider how to do this in a way that is most sensitive to the long-term emotional needs of a young child.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear M.,
Sadly, grandparents don't have any rights in California. I love that you are ensuring a good stable life for your grandson and it certainly sounds like you intend to continue. I suggest you find your local family law center and request guuardianship papers. There is usually a cost involved, don't know how much in your location, but I think it'll be worth while for your peace of mind and the continued security of your grandson.

Adoption is another possibility, but both of the child's parents have to agree, if the father can be found. If he isn't available, the court will facilitate a search and after a set period of time, if his whereabouts remain unknown, the court will find that the adoption can happen without him. Of course, the biological mother retains her parental rights and she has the right to fight to keep her child, even if she actually does not take care of him. It's quite difficult to prove a mother "unfit" so you might be best advised to seek legal guardianship.
Hope this was helpful. S.

1 mom found this helpful

This is a tough one, since she is an adult and the biological mom, she has the rights. It's not fair that irresponsible people get to by parents but they do! Good luck. You cnna still be a VERY strong influence.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

What a difficult position. I am sorry for the anxiety you must feel. How is the relationship with your daughter? It sounds as though she is not very mature (not seeing how much you provide and of course, you should claim him). Of course, that is not the most important, it is the small boy who needs a community of family supporting and nurturing his development. If he is unsafe with your daughter, I would begin documenting everything, including acquiring letters of reference from people who are privy to the situation to build a case to gain custody legally. I would also obtain a family lawyer and push for custody if you feel the child is in harm if he goes back to his mother. On the other hand, if she is just immature, in a few years, she may grow into a woman capable of providing a loving home for her son and if that is the case, even though you have provided all his care till now as a mother should, she will likely get him back, unless you have made some concrete custodial motives. Would your daughter sign custody over at this pont? I think that would really be easiest, then if she does grow up at some point in the future, you have a lot of control over how quickly she comes back into her son's life. My response seems to have rambled, I hope it was a little helpful and I do wish you and your family the very best for all of you.

You need to establish your guardinaship of the child NOW !!!!!Do not wait. Contact your local social services as soon as possible and find out what you have to do.

I have guardianship of my granddaughter. My situation was a little easier because my daughter consented to the guardianship. I would suggest that you apply for the guardianship. Unfortunately, since your daughter is the mother and you have no legal right to the child, she can come and take him from you at any time. When you apply for the guardianship, you can apply for temporary guardianship and have that granted immediately without a court hearing. The court will give you the temporary guardianship pending the hearing on permenent guardianship so that the mom won't come and snatch the child from you when she finds out you've filed. It is very important for your grandson that you do this so that he can remain in your stable home. there are fees associated - filing fees and court investigator fees which can be quite steep but there are also provisions for payment arrangements or to waive the fees if you truly can't afford to pay them. The court's are very helpful.

You need a good attorney to sort this out. Make sure to document all of your grandson's expenses that you pay and the hours you spend with him.

You just need a really great lawyer. If she is on drugs that will go against her and request only supervised visitations. Do not expect her to ever give you support because even if ordered she most likely wont give you a dime. You don't say how you ended up having him with you. Maybe she would let you adopt him.

What rights did she have

I recommend you call Lilliput Children Services. They have kinship support established and should be able to help you answer your questions. Their number is ###-###-####. Good luck!

I have been taking care of my 16 yr old grandson and have legal guardianship of him. His mom is in AZ. She just now got served with child support papers. If she gives me custody, will she still have to pay child support?

Dear M.,
Custody issues are the very worst. I know. I have a court date of my own coming up on 8/6 with my ex-husband regarding our son.
First, I want to say that your grandson is very lucky to have you and I think it's wonderful that you have been able to provide him with a stable home.
It's hard for me to say much about the custody part without having more info. For instance, was custody ever established in the first place? Where is the father? My daughter's father and I never married even after 8 years together. When we split up, I had to go to court to have custody and paternity established. Believe it or not, it's not just automatic that the one who gave birth or that the child resides with has "custody". Your grandson's mother has rights, but it will depend on to which extent she chooses to exercise them and is capable of being responsible. I don't know where you live. But you can contact the courthouse, Superior Court, and ask for the number of the Family Law Facilitator. Our facilitator is an attorney who can meet with you, free of charge, to answer questions or guide you through the paperwork process. We also have a Center for Children's Advocacy and Redwood Legal Assistance. Start with the court and get as many numbers for resources in your area as possible and start contacting them with regard to filing for legal guardianship of your grandson. There is a difference between guardianship and custody. They can explain all of that to you.

Now, as far as her claiming him on her taxes....that is a big no-no. The child has to reside with you more than half of the year and you have to provide more than half of their living expenses, etc. Again, I am all too familiar with this as I have always had custody of our son and his father, a few years ago, began claiming on his taxes that the child lived with him. I found out when I was blocked from being able to receive my tax refund. So, I had to fill out a form, get a letter from my son's school, and send them along with the custody papers to the IRS. They told me it took take a year for them to get it sorted out. Fortunately, it didn't very long at all. However, he did it again. Two more years in a row. I had no trouble getting my refunds but did get audited, which was no big deal since I'm single and don't have anything but me and my kids. They finally caught up with him. He had to pay back a bunch of money and now he's taking me to court over custody.
Anyway, you should be the one claiming the child as a dependent as long as you can prove that he resides with you and you pay for daycare, his clothing, his food, his rent, his medical bills. His mother cannot prove any of that and should not be claiming him. This is also something that you can discuss with the court facilitator as something that needs to be addressed in your motion for guardianship.
You also didn't mention what your relationship with your daughter is like. She may agree to let you be his legal guardian or she may think you are the devil and it could get ugly.
Either way, who the child resides with and is responsible for his care, needs to be established and recognized by the court.
If you are going to continue raising him, you need the legal right to obtain medical care, health insurance, his medical records, you need to be able to enroll him in school, etc.
I will wish you the very best of luck.
Feel free to contact me if you'd like....if you just need some support through the process.
Knowledge is power, so just start phoning around and getting all the information you can.
Take care!

Has your daughter had any contact at all with her child in the last 2 years? If so when and how often? If she has not been in contact with the child then you can claim abandonment in the case. As well, you probably would want to talk to social services because she should not be getting any benefits for her child if she is not the one taking care of it. It is your right to claim him on your taxes because you are the one who he is living with. You can claim him on your taxes and then the IRS will go after her for having claimed him when you show that you have been the one he is living with.

I would say GET AN ATTORNEY, I know that they cost a lot of money but try some of the organizations others have suggested to see if maybe there are ones that won't charge you as much due to your situation. As well, make sure you document why it is that you have been the one raising your grandson, find as many people as you can who are willing to testify for you and get written statements. Get people who can tell about what it's like between you and your grandson, what the mothers like and how the mother and grandson interact. Unfortunately unless you get an attorney there is a very good possibility of the guardianship not going to you completely just because the mediators (which you will be required to go to mediation unless she just gives in) like to give the birth mother a chance. If you get an attorney you may be able to provide a very good case.

Good luck (I've gone through similar except with my step-son, whose mother stopped showing up at about 6 months of age, she was granted visitation when 1 and 1/2 years later we applied for full custody. Luckily she probably will never get any true custody just maintain visitation.)

Dear M.,

It might be a good idea to consult with an attorney about this matter first. Many attorneys will not charge you a fee to out line what would be involved in a child custody case, although there will definitely be a fee if the attorney takes the case.

When you phone the attorney's office, ask specifically if there will be a charge for this consultation and if so what it will be before going to the office. Do not hesitate to call several to find one that you feel is interested in the case, not just the money.

However, you could directly contact Child Protective Services in your area. Ask to speak with a social worker. Explain to the service worker that you have been caring for this child most of his life, that your daughter does not provide for him, that you are concerned about her ability to do so, and that you wish to have him placed permanently in your home.

Where is the father? Is he paying any child support? Does the mother get this, but not use it for her son? The State is interested in Dead Beat Dads, too

If the child is actually living with you, not just at your house while his mom works, and you are in fact supporting him ( you buy all of his clothing, pay his medical bills, provide his food etc) and she is claiming him on her income taxes, then you might have a leverage.
The mom could get in serious trouble with the IRS. Talk with the service worker about this, too.

It is possible that the child could be removed from his mother's custody, and the court could place him permanently with you. She and the Dead Beat Dad could be ordered to pay you for his support. If neither parent is capable of making payments to you , then you may be eligible for payments from the State. The child then might qualify for MediCal health insurance.

If you go through a private attorney you would still probably end up having to deal with Child Protective Services anyway.

Brst wishes for you in trying to provide loving care for your grandson.

Merylyn (aka "M."

Unless she actually gives up her rights as a parent, you unfortunatly don't have any rights. You would have to go to court and prove that she is not fit to raise her son, and that is very difficult to do. But if you are the one raising him she has no right to claim him on her taxes and she could get in trouble for fraud. If you feel that she can't be convinced to eventually take her son than you should try to go to court. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that some day she may grow up and want to be a part of his life. I have a cousin who's daughter was raised by his parents for 8 years, he finally became clean and sober and realized that he needed to take over and be responsible to her as a parent. So you want to make sure that if you do fight for custody that you leave it open for her to be a part of his life if that is something you think could happen down the line.

Hi M.: Have you spoken to a family law attorney? I work for one in Santa Clara County and we did have one case a while ago where we got a grandma appointed as legal guardian but it was because the parents were really screwed up. It will be tough too if your daughter wants to see your grandson because the courts (at least in Santa Clara County) are very pro keeping families together. If you live in Santa Cruz County I would try calling around and getting a consulation with an attorney. Good luck! S.

If you can not afford an attorney, go to the Family Law Facilitators Office. I believe it is near the Family Law Courthouse on Power Inn Rd. in Sacramento. You should be able to find it on the internet or on the website for Sacramento Co. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

It is probably best if you request that you be made his legal guardian. This is much like a divorce, mom can be granted visitation rights, or you can request that no visitation rights be granted. The court may appoint a "guardian ad litem" who will analyze the situation and make a recommendation about what they think is best for your grandson. But without legal guardianship, you will not be able to enroll your grandson in school, and not be legally able to get him health care, among other rights.

hi, we r raising our grandson since we picked him up from the hospital, 2 years now and all i can tell you is that if you have proof that he has been with you and that there has been no child support, you should go to a lawyer to get legal guardianship. The Social Services Agency in your area will help you. We are working on this right now. good luck

I have almost the same problem so I am interested in reading the responses you get.

There is always two sides to every story. Being a young mom at 16 and having to fight for custody of my own child...this hits home. With a very unjust story of my own....I have to ask... Did she just show up one day at your door and say I give up can you take over? Did she just leave him one night so she could go party and never come back? Did you offer to help her and then make it so easy for her to not to participate? Have you told her you want her to help? Have you asked her if she has any desire to raise him? If these cases are true or maybe worse...yes do what you can to protect your grandson. But be real sure in your heart of hearts this is the right thing to do....cause if you try and you loose, you may loose both of them. And if you get CPS involved, there is always that chance their is some crazy reason they see your house as unfit and you ALL loose the little boy.

My son, that I raised, just graduated from high school and is turning in to the most wonderful young man.

I don't know what rights you have, but I do know that if you can get her to terminate her parental rights voluntarily, then you won't have to fight her in court. If I were you I would talk to a lawyer, get papers made up for her to terminate her rights, and then think hard of a bribe for her. Would she terminate in exchange for a new car? Some amount of $$? That's what I would try first. I believe that once she's signed the termination, it;s over.



When my nephew past away, my sister fought to just to see her grandkids and she won partial custody. She was able to have them everyother weekend. The mother got into drugs, no record on her part, but became unstable to her kids and now my sister and the other grandmother both have full custody of all her kids. The mom had 1 child with my nephew and the others came after his death when she married an abusive man. Both grandparents have full leagl guardianship of the kids.

I think you have a case if presented well. What about the father? Is he involved at all. The courts will ask about him as well. Yes we often hear that it is very hard to take kids away from the mother, however these days with girls having kids at a young age and no responsibility this may help your case. From what I have seen, courts also have favor on grandparents as well. Just do what you feel is right and however it works out, know that you did what you can to give this child a better life. May God bless you and be with you and give you peace in all you do.

Hi M.:
Here in Santa Rosa we have an organization called Grandparents parenting again. You should check their website for resources, http://www.grandparentsparentingagain.org/index.htm and check to see if there is a similar organization in your area that could help.

Hi M..

Is your daughter actually fighting you to get her child back? You certainly have the fact that you've been raising the son on your side. And you are still very young and capable of being the legal guardian. I had an excellent lawyer when I went through my divorce and she was very inexpensive and helped me win my visitation battle. I don't know the name of her firm, but her name is Julie Saffren and her office is on 1st street near Jackson (in San Jose). Someone else I recommended her to was able to find her in the phone book. I would at least talk to her. Good luck to you.

I am not an attorney but I have been involved with a similar situation. I am the daughter in a grandparent custody case. Before you judge let me explain. My Ex Husband who is NOT the father of my two baby boys told me he wanted a divorce. I took my boys to my parents house in Idaho because I did not want them to experience a divorce (fighting, yelling & negative environment). I had to wean my youngest early to do this as well. My ex knew I was taking them and he said he did not want them and did not want to get stuck paying support for my boys, I fully agreed and did not want anything from him because I did not want him involved and everyone knew they not his boys. He couldn't have children (Vasectomy 25 years earlier). So about 8 months later I got a message on my phone that there was a custody hearing that he had filed and was seeking full custody of my boys. This was retaliation because he was now mad about our break-up and he realized I was entitled to half of our property, he filed for custody as leverage against me. My parents knew he was not safe or responsible enough to care for my boys much less on his own and they went and talked to a lawyer. They imediately filed for grandparent custody because they had been taking care of them for the last several months and I was still "homeless" and couldn't yet provide for them or keep them safe from my Ex. (He had also threatened my life during all of this) I had no objection to my parents having legal custody until I could do it on my own so I did not object which made it easy for them. But my ex is trying to bring the matter to California where we live because he thinks the courts will listen to him here. In Idaho he is like a stranger on the street to them and the courts would not let him intervene. California has told him no 4 times now and it's still in appeal after 3 years. Long story short. Get all of your evidence together. Prove that you are taking care of them solely. If you can prove that you are caretaker and she is claiming them on taxes show that in court, it will not be favorable for her. What you need is evidence and proof of everything. The court will probably let her have visitation if she fights for it but maybe this will wake her up to take responsibility. If things are the way you say the courts always rule in favor of the children. If you can establish that they have been living with you (witness testimony, receipts, photos) they are not going to take the children out of the familiar environment you have provided. If she really is not stepping up for her children then she will visit a few times then probably stop the visitation eventually. At that point you can go back to court to show that she has not changed and you want full legal custody and it could turn to where she has no rights... What ever you do I can tell you this... If she fights back it WILL be long, stressful and a financial struggle. (My mom's friends went through this fighting with their druggy daughter-in-law for their grand daughter when their son died, she fought back in court and it took three years and over 10,000 dollars but they won.) Just make sure it does not interfere with the children, they will sense it from you. Just know that you are in for a fight. I had no idea how long and awful this would be when it started. To date I still do not know when my boys whom I love dearly will be able to live with me full time. We can only visit for less than six months a year until my ex is no longer a threat to them. This breaks my heart I birthed my children at home myself, breastfed them and we were very bonded so this just kills me inside. I now have a 1 year old baby boy and my boys (now 8 & 4) have only been around him for 2 months of his life. But I rest in knowing they are safe and secure now. I hope for the best for your grandchildren. Hope this was helpful.
K. R.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.