Grandparents get custody of Spotsylvania children

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Family Law on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.

Local authorities removed eight Spotsylvania County children from their home after discovering incredibly unsanitary conditions. The case raises significant family law issues. The children have been placed in their grandparents' custody as their parents await the resolution of pending child neglect charges. The story reminds Virginia residents that child custody disputes can arise from a number of situations, not just divorce.

After being alerted by a store clerk, who found a naked child wandering around in a store parking lot, local police decided to investigate a possible situation of child neglect. The child led police to her home. Inside, the authorities discovered two sleeping parents and unsanitary conditions -- rotten food and animal waste everywhere. The police immediately arrested the parents and removed the children from the home, determining that relocation was appropriate.

The police placed the children in two grandparents' custody and charged the parents with several counts of child neglect and other crimes. As the parents await the resolution of these criminal charges, they also face the harsh reality that their parental rights may be stripped from them.

Virginia law provides specific grounds for terminating parental rights, including child neglect. When a parent-child relationship faces possible termination, custody becomes an important issue. Parents facing criminal charges must realize that losing custody is a real possibility and equip themselves with the best legal defense to prevent losing their parental rights to raise their children. Meanwhile, other family members like grandparents should realize that the legal system may turn to them to resolve child relocation and custody issues. Like the story of the eight Spotsylvania County children, authorities will often try to place children in a relative's custody to offer the children a secure and familiar relocation option.

The story of the eight Spotsylvania children is extremely unfortunate. It has important lessons, however. It teaches Virginian parents that if they face criminal charges, losing their children may be one of the penalties. Further, it highlights the importance of a family network and that other family members can step in and help with caring for the children and related custody issues.

Source:, "Eight children taken at 'disgusting' home," Keith Epps, Aug. 28, 2012

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