Grandparents Rights And Responsibilities

Here’s a list of frequently asked questions that many grandparents have concerning their legal and financial responsibilities for a grandchild born to a minor. Please contact your local DHHS for more information and available resources.

Who am I legally responsible for?

Your responsibilities and rights are considered different things under the law. You are legally responsible for all the minors living in your home because you are the adult.

Do I have the right to make decisions on behalf of the baby?

No, the teen parents, even if they are minors, have the parental rights for the baby. However, you are responsible for your teen and the baby… just without the rights for the baby. The only way to change the rights is by obtaining legal guardianship through the courts. Then you would be able to make decisions on behalf of your teen’s baby.

What financial obligations do I have for my teen and their baby?

You are responsible for the care of all minors in your household. However, when it comes to child support, your obligation is only to your teen, even if they are a minor. You cannot be required to pay child support for your grandchild. Paying child support is the legal responsibility of the non-custodial teen parent (parent who the baby is not living with).

What rights do paternal grandparents have?

None, unless paternity is established and you get rights through the court system.

What financial obligations does the father have? What about paternal grandparents?

The non-custodial parent (no matter if this is the teen mother or the teen father) is obligated to pay child support until the baby is 18 or graduated from high school (up to 19 ½ years old), even if the parent is a minor. Usually the non-custodial parent is the teen father, but that is not always the case.

Who the father of the baby is, or paternity, must be determined if a baby is born to an unmarried mother, or if the mother has not been married in the past 10 months. Once paternity is determined, then a child support case would be created and pursued under the custodial teen parent’s name. (If a PPO is in place or endangerment is an issue, then no child support case will be pursued. Be sure to inform your case worker. He or she can send a claim of good cause letter to child support services.)

If your son is determined to be the father of the baby, and he is not the custodial parent, then he will have to pay child support according to his ability.

As paternal grandparents, your only financial obligation is to your son. However, if the baby is living with you, then you are responsible for all the minors in your home. Even so, you cannot be required to pay child support for your grandchild.

What kind of financial or other help is available to my teen if he/she is living in my home?

If you have an open DHHS case, talk to your case worker first for guidance on what to do.

You can apply for assistance using the MI Bridges application. You may access the site online or go to your local DHHS office to have someone help walk you through the application process.

Here is the MI Bridges website –

By answering a series of questions online or at your local DHHS office, you can use the website to determine if you or your teen are eligible for cash assistance, food assistance, child care assistance, emergency relief, and/or health care assistance.

To learn more about the details of the assistance programs available under MI Bridges click on the links below:

Cash assistance – TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). This is called the Family Independence Program in Michigan.

Food assistance – SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Child care assistance – CDC (Child Development and Care) Program

Emergency Relief – Extreme hardship and emergencies

Medical / ACA / Healthy Michigan Plan – Health care assistance

How does public assistance work with child support?

State and federal law requires those receiving public assistance to cooperate with the Office of Child Support and the Prosecuting Attorney. The term “public assistance” includes a wide variety of assistance programs you may receive, including cash assistance, food assistance, child care and medical services.

The child support program will help you:

  • Establish paternity;
  • Establish a child support order (even if you have a personal agreement or divorce order in place stating no child support is ordered); or
  • Seek any needed changes to an existing order.

If you are receiving public assistance, the Office of Child Support will send a letter to you. The letter will ask you to provide additional information by a certain due date.

Pay attention to the due date and follow the instructions in the letter. If you do not provide the information by the due date, you may be found uncooperative. This will put your case into noncooperation status, which could result in your public assistance benefits being reduced or stopped.

Will my health insurance cover my teen and his/her child?

Contact your health insurance company to find out what coverage they provide for dependents and if your teen and their child will be covered.

If you have an open DHHS case, contact your caseworker to find out what to do next. Most often, your daughter will continue to be part of your case. Then later, when the baby is born, he or she will be added to your case as well.

Do I need to open a new case with DHHS to get resources for my pregnant teen/teen parent?

If you have an open case with DHHS, first contact your caseworker to learn what to do next.

  • If your teen daughter is a pregnant minor and still in high school, she can be added or will remain part of your case. The baby will also be added to your case if living with you after birth.
  • If your teen is a minor but has graduated from high school, you will open a new case for your teen.
  • If your teen is a minor and not in high school, then he or she must comply with the Michigan Works Program as an adult would, to receive any kind of assistance. Ask your DHHS caseworker how to do this.
  • Note: If you seek assistance for a minor and a pregnancy is involved, DHHS must report this to child protective services. CPS will decide whether or not to pursue an investigation. This applies to both teen boys and girls.

For food assistance, a young person is considered a minor up through age 22, if they are living in the home with their natural parent.

For other types of assistance, a young person is considered a minor if they under age 18.

Can I provide consent for care for my grandchild?

Only the parent or legal guardian can provide consent for care of a minor. Even if your teen is a minor, he or she is the parent of the baby and parents or legal guardians are the only ones who can provide consent. If you have custody of the baby through a court order, then you can provide consent for care for your grandchild. Otherwise you cannot.