I can speak for what the law is in all jurisdictions, of course, but I can answer this question as it applies in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah):
Can they? Meaning: is it possible? Yes.
How? Several ways (in no particular order of ease or popularity):
- Petition the court to terminate the parents’ parental rights and award the custody of (and parental rights to) the children to the grandparents;
- Petition for guardianship of the grandchildren such that the grandparents obtain legal and physical custody of the grandchildren;
- Petition for grandparent “visitation” rights that result in the parents having no physical custody of the children.
Utah Code Title 30, Chapter 5 (Grandparents), Section 2 (Visitation rights of grandparents)
Utah Code Title 30 (Husband and Wife), Chapter 5a (Custody and Visitation for Individuals Other than Parents Act)
Utah Code Title 80 (Utah Juvenile Code), Chapter 4 (Termination and Restoration of Parental Rights)
Utah Code Title 78B (Judicial Code), Chapter 6 (Particular Proceedings), Part 1 (Utah Adoption Act)
Utah Code Title 75 (Utah Uniform Probate Code), Chapter 5 (Protection of Persons Under Disability and Their Property), Part 2 (Guardians of Minors)
Should grandparents take custody from parents permanently?
That is a question that many selfish grandparents fail to ask enough. To be sure, grandparents who seek to be awarded custody of their grandchildren when the parents abandon those children are doing a noble and necessary thing. Unfit parents need to have their children taken from them, at least on a temporary basis until and unless the parents reform and become fit to exercise the legal and physical custody of their children. But you’d be amazed at the number of times grandparents will call me wanting to take their grandchildren from their parents out of greed or spite or petty disagreements over how children should be treated and reared. Those kinds of grandparents need to back off and respect the parents’ rights.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277
(28) Eric Johnson’s answer to Can grandparents take custody from parents permanently? – Quora