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North Carolina divorce lawyers report: Rate of children raised by grandparents rises

/// 10/13/2010

As the family law attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt have previously documented, the recession that the United States is suffering and with which American families must continue to struggle with has changed many things for Americans. For families, job losses have led to financial downsizing, relocation,separation of spouses, loss of homes and moving in with other family members. Whether the separations are the product of job changes, unemployment or divorce spurred by stress and conflict, the absence of intact parental units has no doubt impacted children. A study recently released by the Pew Research Center points out that grandparents are currently raising one in ten children.

The study, titled “Since the Start of the Great Recession, More Children Raised by Grandparents,” states that the number of children who lived with their grandparents slowly rose over the past decade. The increase in children being raised by their parents’ parents rose more sharply from 2007 to 2008, which correlates with the beginning of the economic downturn.

The Pew Research Center study, based upon U.S. Census Bureau data analysis,  further explains that approximately four in ten  children who live with a grandparent (or grandparents) are being raised primarily by that grandparent. Concurrently, 49 percent of children living with a grandparent were also living with a single parent. Only eight percent of the children being raised by grandparents had two parents to the household.  According to the research, while  grandparents are serving as primary caregivers for these children the grandparents  have very limited financial resources.

Approximately 18 percent of the grandparent caregivers live below the poverty line, according to the study. Some 47 percent of grandparent caregivers have income levels between one- and three-times the poverty line. The Pew article asserts that grandparents living on an income at one-to three-times the poverty line experienced the largest increase in taking in grandchildren. While the study does not elaborate on custody issues, they are sure to follow when a family member, other than a primary parent, assumes the work and cost of rearing of a child. Whether it is a single parent, both parents or the grandparent(s) raising the child; the issues of legal custody and financial support require attention.

When it comes to child custody, the North Carolina family attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt explain that the subject is one of the most hotly litigated issues that can arise during a divorce or in circumstances where the primary parent or parents is unable or unwilling to care for his or her child. North Carolina law provides that custody determinations  between a mother and father are to be made in the best interests of the child. As between mothers and fathers, no presumption exists as to which parent better promotes the best interest of the child irrespective of the child’s age.  However, in the case of third party caregivers such as grandparents or other family members, the best interest of the child determination will be made only after the primary parent or parents is found to have acted against the child’s best interest.

If you are  a grandparent, aunt, uncle or other family member and are in a situation where you are caring for the child of another family member, it is important to consult a family law attorney with regard to legal custody of the child and child support if the primary parent is unable to unwilling to provide care and financial support for the child. The Raleigh North Carolina attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt have extensive experience and possess in-depth knowledge in particular  in the area of custody and child support as well as other areas of family law. The firm can provide a superior, highly skilled and experienced response to the complex and emotionally sensitive issues that exist in custody and financial support determinations.

GWH offers knowledge, skill and experience in the many areas of family law that is second to none.

To contact the family law attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt, call (919) 832-8488.


Gailor Wallis & Hunt, PLLC

Divorce is tough, so are we.



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