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What are Grandparents' Rights to Visitation?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 18, 2011 6:48 AM

With changing familial structures that involve divorce and remarriage, some family relationships and roles fall to the wayside. 

Grandparents are often victims of these changes, with their visitation rights commonly terminated upon a relationship's demise.

Because of the bond between grandparent and grandchild, it's important to understand just what constitutes grandparents' visitation rights.

Grandparents' rights are actually governed by state statutes, which are given effect in other jurisdictions via federal law.

Generally speaking, grandparents' rights to visitation fall into one of two categories: restrictive and permissive.

Restrictive statutes only permit grandparents visitation if parents have divorced or if one is deceased.

Most statutes are more permissive in that they don't wholly rest on the status of the parental relationship.

Beyond parental roles, grandparents' rights are predicated on a variety of factors.

Courts consider the needs and wishes of the child, the ability of all parties to provide for the child, and the strength of the grandchild-grandparent relationship. Ultimately, the court bases its decision on what is in the best interest of the child, with substantial deference being given to a fit parent's right to make decisions.

When all is said and done, courts will generally make reasonable requests of parents if a visitation schedule can't be worked out by the parties themselves.

So if you're in a situation where you'd like to visit your grandchild but are forbidden from doing so, take a chance on that relationship and call an attorney. You may just be able to see your grandkid sometime soon.

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