Your grandchild has been staying with you while your son or daughter has been working on becoming stable. The other parent is not in the picture right now, so you are the only one who can provide what your grandchild needs. However, because you are not his or her parent, you cannot make all the decisions that you need to.
You may be able to pursue legal guardianship of your grandchild through the courts for as long as he or she needs you to be the primary caregiver.
As the person legally filling in for the parent, you will have the custodial responsibilities of a natural parent. Of course, you already provide food and clothing, as well as a safe environment and the protection your grandchild needs. You offer your love and emotional support, too. In addition to these, though, his or her education is your responsibility, and you must ensure that any special needs are met. If your grandchild needs medical attention or dental care while in your custody, you must ensure that he or she gets it.
Not only are you responsible for providing for your grandchild, but you are also liable in the event that he or she causes intentional damage. If, for example, he or she acts out by smashing a car window, you would have to pay to have a new one installed.
Guardianship does not take away your child's parental rights. Although you have a court order that gives you the legal and physical custody of your grandchild, your child may still have reasonable access, such as frequent visitation, as long as it is safe. If there are issues of physical abuse, mental illness or substance abuse, the court may have stipulations that your child must meet to visit. While you are serving as legal guardian, you will probably be under the supervision of the courts. When your child is fully ready to be a parent again, the court may end your legal guardianship.