Archive for the 'Grandparents' Category

Grandparents’ Visitation

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Divorce does not just affect parents, or children but extended families as well. Grandparents often wonder if they even have rights to their grandchildren now that the parents have divorced. Living with the loss of not being able to see their grandchildren is unimaginable.

The Supreme Court case dealing with the issue of grandparents’ rights is Troxel v. Granville 530 U.S. 57 (2000). The Court in Troxel, asserted that parents have the exclusive legal right to raise the children and determine their children’s relationships with any third parties, including grandparents. In other words, parents cannot be forced to allow grandparents’ visitation except in special circumstances.

Taking parents to court will do very little to resolve any ongoing conflict that resulted in the estrangement in the first place. Mediation is an option if the custodial parent is not willing to agree on visitation for grandparents. A third party attempting to gain visitation should be able to prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Grandparents might be required to show that the child will suffer harm if visitation is taken away.

Suing the child’s custodial parent for visitation is not a decision to be taken lightly; feelings get hurt and even in the best possible outcomes, hurt feelings can mean a hardened heart. It is always best to try to work it out with the parent if at all possible.

Communication sometimes is best facilitated with a mediator. Additionally a mediator may be able to facilitate a resolution that all parties agree to and feel comfortable with. Positive communication not only works toward resolution of the instant litigation/visitation issue but also establishes healthy relationships between the parties and children.

Sharply Reduced Since Troxel v. Granville

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The concept of grandparents’ rights – usually meaning grandparents getting court ordered visitation rights with their grandchildren – became more and more in fashion during the 1970s and 1980s. As divorce shattered families, grandparents claimed that they had become victims of their adult children’s marital problems, and some sought to maintain contact with children even against the wishes of their own children.

In 2000, the Supreme Court drew a line in the sand about grandparents’ rights in Troxel v. Granville. The court, citing a number of cases under the Fourteenth Amendment, ruled that parents have a “fundamental liberty interest” in the care, custody and control of the children. This means the parents have a right to control limit a child’s visitors. Washington had a very liberal law that permitted any person to ask for visitation rights at any time by demonstrating that the visitation was in the child’s best interest.

Since Troxel, courts have been much more circumspect about grandparents’ visitation with grandchildren. And most family law practitioners advise care when grandparents consider litigation with their adult children about the issue because the outcome is likely to worsen the overall domestic situation.