Some states allow extended family members to petition for custody if there are serious problems with one or both of the parents, or if no one else is available to care for a child. 

Local news for New York reported on a child custody battle between Carol Burnett and her daughter.

Grandmother attempts to take grandson away because of daughter’s drug problem

The dispute apparently began because Burnett believes that her daughter has a serious substance abuse problem that is compromising her 14 year old grandson’s safety. The 87 year old celebrity filed a petition which alleges that her daughter is going through some serious issues because of her addictions, and it is in the best interests of her grandson to be transferred to a stable environment. Burnett mentioned in the petition that her husband would also be available to assist with child care responsibilities during their custody time

The petition continues to say that the guardianship duties of the grandparents will be for education, healthcare, and other responsibilities that are not meant to interfere with the child’s relationship with his mother. Visitation arrangements would be made while his mother is attending substance abuse rehabilitation programs. 

The documents that were filed in the local family court only ask for temporary custody, as the child would be returned to his mother full time after she overcomes her substance abuse issues. Some of the more troubling details of the child’s 52 year old mother’s recent years include a suicide attempt, psychiatric holds on medical and legal records, and two investigations in approximately two years from the state’s Department of Children and Families. 

The Burnett family had prior substance abuse problems when Carol’s oldest daughter was in a similar situation years earlier. The family did not release any comments to the media regarding these issues. 

Issues surrounding child custody disputes

During a divorce or other family problems, child custody often becomes the most important issue for a couple or extended family. As this news story shows, personal problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, financial struggles, and mental health issues will often become very important during a custody hearing. The parent or person petitioning for custody will often mention many of these kinds of problems in a strategic manner to persuade a judge to rule in their favor. A family court judge has to make a finding that awarding custody to one parent would be in “the best interests of the child,” which is not always a clear cut issue. 

Get legal help while dealing with family law issues

You can speak with a local attorney in Brooklyn about these kinds of disputes. To learn more about divorces, child custody disputes, alimony payments, prenuptial agreements, and other areas of family law, contact:

Elliot Green Law Offices

32 Court Street, Suite 404, Brooklyn, NY, 11201


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