If you are a grandparent who is trying to get custody of your grandchildren in Indiana, you may need to prove the parents are unfit and have their right terminated before you can be granted custody. Proving a parent unfit is always done through the courts. Only a judge can make this legal declaration and end parental rights.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the basic grounds for taking away parental rights is that a parent is unable to safely provide adequate care for a child. There are many grounds upon which this determination may be based, such as a parent not being in contact with or supporting a child, abuse, mental illness that is not controlled and puts the child at risk and drug or alcohol dependency. Parents may be given the chance to correct such situations, but if they fail to do so and the situation becomes chronic, then the court may look into removing their parental rights.
You may also be able to get the rights of the parents terminated if they have been convicted of certain crimes. In this state, that includes a conviction for trafficking of minors and a conviction for a sexual offense.
Having parental rights terminated can allow you to then petition the court for custody of your grandchildren. It is important to understand, though, that termination of parental rights is not always permanent. The state does offer the ability for parents to regain their rights if the children are not permanently placed within three years and the children are over the age of 13. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.