Featured News 2018 Missing Your Grandchildren? Seek Grandparents’ Visitation Rights.

Missing Your Grandchildren? Seek Grandparents’ Visitation Rights.

If you have a strained relationship with your divorced son or daughter, your time with your grandkids may be at risk. Grandparents could lose their visitation rights if their grandchildren are under full custody of the other spouse (either due to death or divorce). Often, when a couple splits, extended family is ostracized. While married parents automatically have the right to sever their children's ties with extended family, grandparents of divorced couples can sue for their right to stay in a child's life—as long as they can prove it's in the child's best interests.

Statistically, paternal grandparents are denied a relationship with their grandchildren more often than maternal grandparents after a divorce.

To argue for your right to be in your grandchild's life, you will need to fill out a court form detailing your plea and submit it. After it is reviewed by the judge, he will want to hear from you and your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren, so that he can evaluate the case from all angles. In all cases, the best interest of the child prevails.

The Supreme Court Decision on Grandparent Visitation

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court changed visitation rights with the case Troxel v. Granville. This court ruling decided against a Washington state law that said that any interested party could be granted visitation rights as long as it was in the best interest of the child, regardless of the parents' preference. While there is no federal regulation that gives grandparents the rights to visit their grandchildren, every state has laws that govern a grandparent's visitation rights in extenuating circumstances. Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision, however, the hurdles non-parental figures face are far higher.

This is especially true in a situation which involves the divorce of the parents, incarceration of the parents, or the death of a parent.

As a result of the Granville case, grandparents must prove that it is in the child's best interest that they are involved with his or her life. Some states also require grandparents to prove that it will harm the child if they are not a part of his or her upbringing. Judges evaluate the familial status of the child, the fitness of the parent and the petitioning grandparent, the evidence at hand, the existence of a viable relationship between the child and the grandparent, and the role of a guardian ad litem in the proceedings before making a decision. These standards will vary in importance depending on what state you reside in.

The Two Types of Visitation Laws

There are two types of visitation laws. Restrictive visitation gives grandparents permission to visit their grandchildren even if the child's parents under a restraining order. This usually occurs when the parents are incarcerated or have been convicted of substance abuse or child abuse. Permissive visitation is given to grandparents who want an ongoing and consistent relationship with their grandchildren. These cases may include financial obligations. In rare instances, a grandparent may be granted full custody of the children.

Certain circumstances can void a grandparent's visitation rights. If the child's parents are not married, it is hard to obtain visitation. Any circumstance where the child is in the legal care of another family can void grandparent visitation. If you are granted court-appointed visitation, you will be given a document outlining when and where visitation periods are supposed to take place. If the child's parents do not uphold your rights, you can challenge them in court and fight for the restitution of time lost.

Call a family law attorney to discuss the ways you can become a part of your grandchild's life.

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