Divorced Parents: What Are Your Rights As a Grandparent?

Grandparents and their grandchildren have a special bond. Unfortunately, when a set of parents divorce, grandparents don’t always know where they stand. If your child is divorced from your son or daughter-in-law, how can you ensure that you still see your grandchildren? As an adoption lawyer from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, here is what you need to know about the rights of grandparents.

Do Grandparents Have Rights to Grandchildren?

Every state is different in regards to grandparents’ rights. In some states, the government recognizes that grandparents have a right to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. Courts can determine that a grandparent and a grandchild’s relationship should be maintained. If visitation is within the child’s best interests, a grandparent may be able to have court-ordered visitation.

When it comes to custody, grandparents cannot obtain custody unless the children’s parents are unfit. In many cases, if the parents are deemed unfit, grandparents are among the first to apply for custody of the children.

Can Grandparents Visit an Adopted Child?

The contact between biological grandparents and adopted children depends on the adoptive parents. If the adoption is closed and the legal parents do not want contact with the former family members, you cannot ask for visitation.

However, in open adoptions, many parents are willing to allow biological grandparents to have a relationship with the children. In these cases, it is always at the discretion of the legal parents. Once a child is adopted, all legal rights that the biological family had are severed. Visitation with biological family only happens on a case-by-case basis determined by the legal parents.

What Can Grandparents Do if the Parents Refuse Visitation?

One of the most unfortunate cases for grandparents occurs when the grandchildren’s parents divorce and one refuses to let the grandparents visit. If you feel like your former son or daughter-in-law is keeping the children from you, you can file a petition for visitation. Your first course of action should be to contact an attorney. The right lawyer can advise you on what your rights are. If you had a close relationship with your grandchildren, the court may order visitation.

Your relationship with your grandchildren is important and beneficial to you and your grandchildren. In many states, the law does recognize the importance of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives. If you feel like your grandchildren are being unfairly kept from you, you can consult with a child custody lawyer to determine whether you have a case for court-ordered visitation.