It is hardly a new phenomenon: for many years, grandparents have willingly taken custody of their grandchildren when their parents are no longer able to care for them. However, according to recent data from the United States Census Bureau, the economic recession has increased the number of parents who no longer have the financial means to care for their children, resulting in an increased number of grandparents who take custody on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Traditionally, grandparents took over the duties of raising and caring for their grandchildren when the children's parents became ill, were sent to jail, passed away, or became addicted to drugs or alcohol. Since the economic recession began in 2007, however, an increasing number of parents in Georgia and throughout the country have made the difficult decision to give up custody when they are no longer able to provide for their children.

Grandparents are now taking custody of their grandchildren for a host of new reasons. Parents may lose their jobs or take new jobs out of state, leaving children with grandparents in an effort to maintain some stability in their lives. Other parents join the military or are deployed.

However, grandparents have not gone unaffected by the economic downfall. According to the Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey, the number of grandparents with custody of grandchildren who are living in poverty has skyrocketed in the past four years. Grandparents who find themselves in this situation should be sure to seek assistance from local family law experts for guidance through the legal and personal implications of their new family arrangement.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "More South Florida grandparents are raising grandchildren during hard times," Diane C. Lade, Oct. 5, 2011