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Changing demographics enlarges the role of many grandparents

A changing demographic across the country, including in Georgia, is having an effect in the realm of family law, with ripples that are showing ever-increasing effects.

That is the area of grandparents’ rights, especially as regards child custody, owing to a number of diverse factors that are changing the landscape of American family composition.

Truly, the “traditional” notion of a nuclear family comprising mom, dad and the kids is no longer what features in many American homes. Although it continues to be the reality for millions of families across the country, of course, it is being supplanted these days in many instances by highly differentiated groupings, many of which feature prominent roles for grandparents as caregivers.

Although having grandparents in an extended household has always been a constant for many family units, the number of such couplings has increased dramatically in recent years, and continues to surge. The reasons for the uptick are broad-based, ranging from higher divorce rates for grandparents’ kids and one or both parents being unable to perform parenting duties to recession-related economic constraints and additional factors.

An official with AARP says that close to eight million children in the United States live together with their grandparents. In nearly five million of those instances, a grandparent heads the household, and in about half of those instances it is one or both grandparents who are the primary caregivers. About one million kids live only with a grandparent, with neither parent having a home-based presence at all.

As stated, and especially given the inexorable march of millions of baby boomers who are grandparents into advanced age, it is likely that grandparents will become progressively more involved, and in higher numbers, with their grandchildren.

That means having an increasingly central role in the same home in matters revolving around custody and the provision of care.

Source: The Washington Post, "As families become more complicated, more grandparents care for the kids, study shows," Tara Bahrampour, Nov. 5, 2013

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