Grandparent holding grandchild hand

Exploring Legal Options - Tips for Grandfamilies Learning Lesson

Words of Wisdom from Grandparents

There are many reasons why grandparents decide to explore legal options when raising a grandchild. When it comes to making a legal decision, there is no right or wrong way. Each family is unique. In this segment, we will focus on three key areas: (1) being proactive, (2) exploring your motivation, and (3) seeking support. This video segment focuses on two grandparents who share their wisdom about deciding to raise their grandchildren. Suggestions from these grandparents include doing your research, following your heart or your gut, and having a game plan.


  1. Participants will learn how to be proactive in exploring legal options.
  2. Participants will look at their motivations for seeking legal options.
  3. Participants will learn about the importance of having support systems within the community.

Video Viewing

This segment highlights words of wisdom from two grandparents who established a legal arrangement for their grandchildren. Suggestions are provided to help you be proactive, to understand what motivates you, and to build a support network.


The grandparents in the video segment offer suggestions for other grandparents who are entering into a full-time caregiving arrangement with their grandchild. The beginning stages are challenging. What do you do? What steps do you need to take?

  • Be proactive
    • Educate yourself on your county/state rules and regulations. Search out related websites on “grandparent legal topics.” The decision to pursue legal custody or guardianship of your grandchild is a difficult one. Make a list of the pros and cons for taking steps to obtain these legal rights.
    • Learn all you can about the parent-child situation. To the best of your knowledge, what worries you about the current parent-child relationship?
    • Begin to inquire about your legal right to care for your grandchild. Have you talked with other grandparents who have gone through a similar situation? Is the Department of Social Services (or Human Services) involved with your grandchild’s parents? Have you been contacted by Child Protection Services or a Family Assessment Response Team?
    • Develop a game plan that is in the best interests of your grandchild. Based on the information, make a list of your available options.
  • Explore your motivations
    • Explore what drives you emotionally, physically, and financially. Are you emotionally prepared for a potentially difficult legal process? Do you have supports to ensure your own physical health while going through this process? Are you prepared for the financial costs associated with obtaining legal assistance? If not, can you be creative in pursuing low-cost resources to help you?
    • Seek options that would lead to what is best for your grandchild. You may be dealing with a number of thoughts and feelings as you consider what to do. It is important to ask yourself what you are willing to do in this situation. Be honest with yourself and make choices based on what you are capable of doing.
  • Develop a support system
    • Remember the 3 P’s: patience, perseverance, and plugging into your community.
    • Learn about existing resources, such as legal resources, friends, mediators, religious communities, other grandparents, educational trainings, navigating case management, and websites. If the child’s parent or your grandchild has substance abuse challenges, you may benefit from being involved in various organizations supporting these issues (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, mental health services, etc.).
    • Get connected. Locate people you can talk to about your situation. Are there grandparent or kinship caregiver support groups in your county? If there are no support groups in your community, learn how to start a support group. Please see for information on how to start a support group.

Test Your Learning

Please think about what you've learned and answer these True/False questions.

  1. The three Ps are patience, perseverance and getting plugged in.
  2. It is not important to be proactive in your journey to helping your grandchildren/relative.
  3. It is important for you to know what is motivating you int he process and what drives you.