Understanding Grandparent Rights During Divorce

There are no question how important grandparents can be in a child’s life. In fact, research has shown that closeness between grandparents and grandchildren can improve mental health and emotional well-being for both you. This benefit is helpful when the child’s parents are going through a divorce. Therefore, in honor of Grandparent’s Day on September 13, we’re devoting this blog to understanding grandparent rights during divorce.

The State of Grandparent Rights

‘State’ is the operative term here. Because grandparent rights are based on state law and each has different statutes on the matter. In general, the courts will look at the best interests of the child when it comes to whether a grandparent has the right to visitation or custody when the parent’s divorce. Factors that determine the best interests of the child may include:

  • The needs of the child, including physical and emotional health, the safety of the child, and the welfare of the child
  • Capability of the parents and/or grandparents to meet the needs of the child
  • Wishes to the parent(s) and the grandparent
  • Wishes of the child if they are old enough and capable of making those decisions
  • The strength of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • The length of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • Evidence of abuse or neglect by the parent(s) or grandparent
  • Evidence of substance abuse by the parent(s) or grandparent
  • How well the child adjusts to the home, school, or community
  • The ability of the parent(s) or grandparent to provide love and care for the child
  • Distance between the child and the parent(s) or grandparent

Keep in mind that grandparent rights are only an option when certain conditions (as determined by your state) are met, and of course, the conditions required for custody differ from those for visitation.


Your Options

If, because of the parent’s divorce, you have been restricted from seeing your grandchild or removed from their life entirely, the options you can take to gain visitation rights or custody include:

  • Petitioning the court
  • Attorney

But there are pros and cons to both. If your child, son- or daughter-in-law or both are preventing you from seeing your grandchild then your relationship is likely already strained. In taking them to court you risk further damaging the relationship, not to mention the time and money involved in getting an order granted in family court, which admittedly, is tough particularly if both parents are still in the picture.

Mediation, on the other hand, is an alternative to court in which you enlist a neutral third party who acts as an intermediary and uses communication as well as negotiation techniques to help you work towards a solution. This process can be easier, more private, and less confrontational if all parties are willing to negotiate an amicable agreement. It also saves your grandchild from enduring a lengthy court battle when they are already dealing with their parents’ divorce.

For additional information on how we can help you, contact us today to learn more.

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WhitsonLaw, PLLC

WhitsonLaw can assist you with divorce, mediation, custody, child support, protective orders, adoption and more.

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