Grandchildren are a delight to grandparents. Some grandparents will frequently travel hundreds of miles every few weeks or regularly spend hundreds of dollars on airfare in order to see their grandchildren as often as possible. When the parents need a night “off” or when someone is needed to care for the child while the parents work, most grandparents happily make themselves available. This leads (naturally) to many children forming a close and loving bond with their grandparents. When the child’s parents file for divorce, however, this close and loving relationship is threatened.
Grandparent Rights vs. Parental Autonomy
When parents divorce, children and grandparents can become caught in the middle of the dispute. If one parent is awarded sole custody of the child, for instance, this parent may deny visitation to grandparents regardless of how strong the relationship between the child and his or her grandparents might be. This is permitted by the courts because parents are recognized to have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit. This right includes the ability to control who has access to the child – even grandparents. Grandparents, by contrast, do not have a similar fundamental right to visit with and participate in the lives of their grandchildren.
Can a Grandparent Receive Court-Ordered Visitation?
In most circumstances, a grandparent who is denied visitation with his or her grandchild can ask the court to order such visitation. In order to prevail on such a request, however, the grandparent will need to show that ordering visitation is in the child’s best interests. This usually means that a court will need to find that overriding the parent’s right to raise his or her child is necessary because the harm to the child that would result is sufficiently great. Grandparents will be expected to show the nature and extent of the grandparent-grandchild relationship prior to the cessation of visitation and be able to point to specific ways in which the child is suffering because visitation has stopped. This can be a difficult burden to meet.
Giro Attorneys at Law, LLC can assist grandparents in understanding their rights and how these rights might be asserted in court. If you are seeking visitation with your grandchild, we will analyze your situation and advise you as to the best method for attempting to obtain visitation. Contact us today to learn how we can help you by calling (201) 690-1642.