Grandparents sometimes find themselves caring for a grandchild unexpectedly. This often happens without any formal court order giving the grandparent custody or guardianship. Without custody or guardianship, the grandparent will face problems getting medical care for the child or dealing with the child’s school.
Ohio law offers two options that give temporary custodial rights to grandparents in this situation depending on whether the parent can be located. If the parent can be found and agrees that the child live with the grandparent, the parent and grandparent can together sign a grandparent power of attorney (POA). If only one parent signs the POA, then a copy of the POA must be sent by certified mail to the noncustodial parent.
If the parent cannot be found after reasonable efforts have been made to locate the parent, then a grandparent caretaker authorization affidavit (CAA) can be completed instead. Only the grandparent needs to sign the CAA.
Both the POA and CAA need to be notarized at the time the document is signed. Then within five days of being created, the document must be filed at the juvenile court for the county where the grandparent lives.
The POA and the CAA give the grandparent custodial rights and responsibilities for the care of the child. This means the grandparent can enroll the child in school, get information about the child from the school, and consent to medical care for the child. Neither the POA nor the CAA affect the rights of the parents or grant legal custody to the grandparent.
The POA and the CAA end when the person who created the document cancels it, the child stops living with the grandparent, or the parent terminates the CAA.
Forms and instructions for the grandparent power of attorney and the caretaker authorization affidavit can be
found on the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court website: http://juvenile.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/forms-publications.aspx under the heading, “Grandparent Power of Attorney and Caregiver Authorization.” These
forms can be used across Ohio.
This article was written by Katie Feldman and appeared in The Alert: Volume 33, Issue 1 and reprinted with permission from The Alert, a publication of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
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