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Grandparents' rights law pushed by granddad denied custody of kids

Pennsylvania readers may be interested to learn that the head of a grandparents' rights association from a southern state has been using his personal experience as motivation to seek changes in child custody proceedings across the country. He raised his two grandchildren, along with his wife, since shortly after the kids were born. However, that all changed in 2010, when his state's Department of Social Services stepped in and removed the children, claiming that the man and his wife were too old and medically unfit to continue to raise them. The experience turned him into a spokesman for grandparents' rights.

Now head of a grandparents' rights group in his state, he recognizes that he cannot change the result concerning his own grandchildren. Nevertheless, he is motivated to ensure that what happened to him and his wife does not happen to other grandparents locally and in other states. Parallel bills are pending in each legislative body in his state. They seek a law declaring that preference should be given to placing children with family, including grandparents. It is also proposed that specific guidelines be enacted for doing so, and that grandparents be entitled to participate in child custody proceedings concerning their grandkids.

While the bills are pending in South Carolina, the grandfather is said to be working with other groups fighting for grandparents' rights for passage of similar bills in other states. He indicated that Tennessee already has a law on the books. It is not known if he has discussed his proposals with any Pennsylvania legislators.

The topic of grandparents' rights continues to be of growing importance in Pennsylvania and across the country. As our society changes, the concept of family has changed as well. This legislative effort appears to embrace that change and include grandparents when it comes to determining what is best for a particular child under specific circumstances. It is not always possible for a child to be raised by his or her own parents, and it simply makes good sense that grandparents be considered when alternative arrangements are necessary and in the best interests of the children involved.

Source: carolinalive.com, "Grandparents fight for custody rights," Kaila DeRienzo, March 25, 2013

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