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Grandparents who raise their grandchildren in Nebraska

More than 10,000 Nebraska grandparents are raising their grandchildren -- and many of them lack the necessary support they dearly need to make the job easier.

The drug crisis that has affected much of America is largely responsible for what some officials have called "a quiet wave" of second-round parents that have stepped in for absent mothers and fathers. The Nebraska Children's Home Society offers classes designed to help grandparents cope with parenting in today's world.

There are also support groups to help grandparents deal with the emotional aspects of the guilt they feel over their own children's drug addictions and the stress of being responsible -- again -- for youngsters. Just the same, grandparents are often left to navigate complex rules of being in the role of a parent -- while not having all the legal protections and entitlements that parents have.

Many grandparents find themselves in precarious situations. They are often pressed to take custody of their grandchildren after the parents of the children end up in rehab or jail. When those parents return, however, they may resent the grandparents' involvement with the children. Parents may suddenly try to seek custody after months or years of absences -- which is disruptive to the lives of the children and their grandparents. They may also be successful at gaining custody of the children again simply because the state prefers to reunite parents and children whenever possible. A grandparent can suddenly be excluded from a grandchild's life after making tremendous sacrifices to care for that child.

If you are raising your grandchild because the child's parents are absent, addicted to drugs or in prison, you owe it to yourself and your grandchildren to protect your rights. An experienced family law attorney can explain more about your entitlement to custody or visitation and what you can do to preserve your legal access to your grandchildren if the parents suddenly return.

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