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Can Family Members Pursue Custody When Children Are Removed from Their Parents?

Posted on in Family Law

Los Gatos, CA grandparent custody lawyerWhen children are removed from their parents in California, no matter the reason, the law requires that they be placed with relatives if there are any fit to be considered as guardians. Relatives may be defined as any adults who are related to the children by blood or adoption, or even someone within the “fifth degree of kinship,” which means stepparents or siblings, grandparents, great- or great-great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, even if the relationship was through marriage. In these cases, it is essential to work with an experienced family law attorney.

Qualifying for Placement

If a family member requests that children who have been removed from their parents be placed with them, they will be given preferential treatment, meaning that they will be considered above any other foster parents. When children are removed from their home, a social worker must conduct an investigation to find all adult relatives of the child and do background checks, follow up on any past allegations of abuse or neglect, and conduct a home inspection of the relative where they child may be placed.

Social workers may also speak to the children about the relatives in question to try and make sure they get a good fit for placement. Social workers will also need to consider the following:

  • Whether the relative in question can properly care for the child’s needs -- physical, emotional, medical, educational, and psychological
  • Whether the relative in question has good character and a background clear of abuse or inappropriate behavior
  • The wishes of the child, if appropriate, and of the parent
  • The existing relationship between the child and the relative in question

Anyone who lives with the relative where the child may be placed must also be investigated. Whenever possible and appropriate, siblings will be placed together in the same home. If they are placed separately, they may still be required to be allowed visitation with each other, either supervised or unsupervised, with the frequency and location to be determined by the court.

When Relatives Adopt

If it is established that a parent will not be regaining custody of his or her children, a relative may petition to adopt them in the county where they live. The Department of Social Services will then conduct an investigation similar to that required for placement with the family, but this investigation will be even more extensive. Interviews with caregivers and a review of home study assessments and evaluations of the family will be required as well.

Contact a Los Gatos, CA Family Law Attorney

Attorney Benita Ventresca is well-versed in family law of all kinds, and she can help you proceed with your attempt to gain custody of a displaced child in your family. You need an experienced Los Gatos child custody attorney to help you through all the details of placement or adoption. Call our office at 408-395-8822 to set up a free consultation.


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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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