Grandparents As Parents Must Understand Grandparent Rights

Grandparents may be a bit surprised to find that grandparent’s rights are not as protected or clear as they might think. Especially when it comes to grandparent visitation rights, they may find that they have practically no rights to the grandchildren at all. While the law and requirements for visitation vary greatly by state, in general it can be quite a disappointment to find out that getting any kind of support or help with grandparent’s rights through the court is an uphill battle. Grandparent visitation rights are usually not granted unless a number of required conditions are met first. Grandparents as parents are becoming very common so always check out your rights.Often, the courts will look at whether or not the parents are married, if one of the parents is deceased, if the grandparents have been denied visitation altogether or if the children resided with the grandparents for a specified length of time. Because the laws vary from state to state, it is best to consult a lawyer or advocacy group for information on local law. Every state requires that the grandparents prove that the requested visitation be in the best interest of the child. How that is proven is part of what is different in each case and state. There are states that want to know about the prior relationship between the grandparent and grandchild and how the visitations will be handled by the grandparent, parent and child. Also, if the parent is already allowing visitation, (no matter how infrequent) will also be considered and could affect a request for more or longer visits.Grandparent’s rights to visitation with their grandchildren were deeply affected by a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Troxel vs. Granville. The Supreme Court ruled that fit parents be given more of a final say on who has visitation with their children in cases of death of one of the spouses or divorce. In this particular case, the mother and father had not married, and after the death of the father, the mother then married and limited the visitation of the paternal grandparents. As she was seen as a fit parent and the grandparents could not prove harm to the children, the court ruled in favor of the mother.What this particular court case does leave open is the possibility of court ordered grandparent visitation if the grandparents can prove that the relationship with the grandchildren was especially strong or if there would be harm to the child in not continuing the relationship. This can be difficult to prove and requires documentation or witnesses that can back up the proof offered by the grandparents.While the 2000 Supreme Court case seems to have issued a blow to grandparent’s rights, many states are in the process of changing their laws to accommodate a better fit for the child and their extended families. It may take some time, but there are growing numbers of organizations ready to help with grandparent visitation rights. Check online and in your local area for help and information.