The rights of grandparents' is not a uniformed issue across all U.S. states. Each state governs grandparents' rights differently, especially in the state where the grandchildren live. All of the 50 states are subject to approve grandparent visitation when they ask the courts to grant them an Order. The only difference between the states is in the details or reasoning why visitation or custody should be granted.
Child custody and visitation disputes involve the rights of the parents. Parents legally have maternal and paternal rights regarding their children. Yes, grandparents also have a say, especially if one or both of the parents are divorced or deceased. Please note that grandma and grandpa do not have instant rights to contact their grandchildren. Unfortunately, family courts must be contacted to help make this decision.
There are two types of grandparents' visitation rights: restrictive visitation and permissive visitation. Restrictive visitation statutes allow grandparents to ask the courts for visitation rights if the parents are divorced or one of the parents is deceased. Permissive visitation statutes allow grandparents the right to ask for visitation when both parents are still living and are still married.
Yes, parents have challenged both restrictive and permissive visitation statutes. Parents in their visitation disputes argue that the statutes infringe on their parental rights to raise their children in their own manner. As in all family matters, the children come first in the court system and the courts always determine what the best interest of the children are.
The courts take into consideration for grandparents to see the grandchildren based on the following factors:
- the grandparents' healthy connection with the child
- why are the grandparents seeking visitation or custody rights
- will the rights of the grandparents be harmful to the child’s health and well-being. For example, will a child undergo emotional harm or physical harm if visitation was not granted?
Child Custody Rights For Grandparents
In certain situations and in different state jurisdictions, grandparents could be awarded child custody of their grandchildren. These situations include parental abuse or neglect if both parents are deceased and the grandchildren have already been in their custody for a particular length of time (six months). To be honest, grandparent's obtaining custody of their grandchildren is a very difficult issue.
Because child custody of the grandchildren varies by states, grandparents should seek assistance and guidance from an attorney. Attorneys will advise grandparents that an investigation by the family courts will be conducted and in situations where the grandparents look favorable for child custody, then they are thoroughly investigated to determine their fitness to raise the child. This process can be a lengthy one, but the courts still uphold their reasoning which is the rights of the child.
Grandparent rights are not immediately recognized by our Constitution, nor even the Supreme Court. These rights never did exist. Instead, grandparents' rights is a new legal issue and the statutes have only been in effect for less than 40 years. Grandparent's visitation disputes and child custody rights are still being revised and challenged today.