Family law: Opioids put many children in the care of grandparents | Lane & Lane, LLC
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Family law: Opioids put many children in the care of grandparents

When it comes to the safety of children in homes in which substance abuse is a problem, the latest threat in New Jersey and elsewhere is heroin and opioids. However, this is not a new issue, as alcohol is a known epidemic along with meth and crack cocaine that have been around in the past. Reportedly, the number of children being cared for by grandparents or other extended families as opposed to foster families has grown significantly. Unfortunately, family law does not make it easy for grandparents to obtain any legal rights in the care of their grandchildren.

A recently released report by Generations United indicates that agencies responsible for placing children have lately been focusing on biological families for placements before considering foster families. It was also noted that, in many cases, children land with grandparents after they were left there by parents who never come back for them. In other cases, families may rescue children from unsafe circumstances in their parental homes. The report says children who grow up with biological families have more chance of maintaining loving relationships with siblings and other relatives than when they are placed with foster parents.

In many cases, children go into the homes of grandparents without ever entering the foster system. Unfortunately, that leaves many grandparents without legal custody of the children. That presents problems with enrolling children in schools, and they have no right to make important decisions such as when medical care is required. Generations United has made a number of recommendations that may make it easier for grandparents, especially if the issues cross state lines. This is important because the adoption laws of each state are different.

Grandparents in New Jersey who are concerned about the safety and welfare of their grandchildren due to substance abuse in their parental homes may benefit from consulting with a family law attorney. After assessing the unique circumstances of the family, an experienced lawyer can explain the available legal options. With the guidance of a skilled attorney, grandparents can choose the most appropriate way forward that will protect the best interests of the children.

Source:, "Opioid epidemic turns grandparents into primary caregivers", Emma Gallimore, Sept. 14, 2016

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