When It Comes to Children, Grandparents Have Rights Too

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October 1, 2011

As a grandparent, it is heartbreaking to have your grandchildren withheld from you. It is even more heartbreaking to see your child struggle as a parent and worry for the safety of your grandchildren. While bringing legal action against your child is an extremely difficult and personal decision, you should know that there are legal remedies available to you.

When a parent denies a grandparent time to see his or her grandchild, the grandparent can ask the court for the right to see them. The grandparent will need to show an ongoing, close relationship to the grandchild for at least one year. The court presumes the parent does what is best for the child, meaning any grandparent considering legal action will need strong evidence that this is not the case, and that it is best for the grandchild to have time with the grandparent. Successful cases will end with a parenting plan going into effect, similar to what a parent
receives after a divorce, laying out when the grandparent is able to see his or her grandchildren.

Grandparents have the ability to obtain custody of grandchildren, but the legal path to custody is more difficult than the path to visitation rights. The grandparent must establish that he or she has a parent- child relationship with the grandchild. The grandparent must show he or she had physical custody or resided in the same house as the grandchild for at least six months prior to beginning the legal process, and that the grandparent did everything a parent would normally do for a child. The grandparent must also overcome the court’s presumption that the parent is acting in the child’s best interests. In most successful cases, the grandparent shows that the parent is causing continued emotional or physical harm to the child.

If you find yourself in a position where you need more information about grandparent’s rights, it is best to speak with an attorney to understand all the intricacies involved.