When a relationship breaks down, it is often the grandparents who step in to try and help the child adjust to new circumstances. However, not all grandparents are necessarily friendly toward their grandchildren. Some may wish to regain control over their grandchildren by taking away their grandparents visitation rights or even custody.
Grandparents are entitled to have regular contact with their grandchildren and other close relatives, even if their relationship with their child’s other parent is strained. Among other things, this means that they can challenge the decision-making process if it is falling short of what is needed for the children’s best interests. While every situation is different, here are some tips to help you determine if a contact with a grandparent would be beneficial for your child.
Grandparent Visitation Rights: Basics
Grandparents visiting with children is not only a visit that brings children and their grandparents together, but it also helps create a sense of relational security and stability in a society where relationships between children and adults are often strained. Research indicates that children who live with their grandparents most of their lives experience better mental health outcomes than children who live with their non-resident parents.
As far as federal law is concerned, courts in each state are required to recognize non-parental visitation orders from other states. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the non-parental visitation portion of Washington state’s visitation statute was unconstitutional, ruling that it violated the due process rights of parents to raise their children.
How Grandparent Visitation Rights are Granted
It is not necessary for a grandparent to obtain formal visitation rights if the parents allow them to visit their grandchildren. When a nonparent wishes to obtain visitation rights, they must prove that their relationship with the child will be beneficial. Courts will consider several factors when making the decision which include (however not limited to):
- Relationship between the child and the grandparent
- Relationship between the parent and the grandparent
- The time duration when child has had contact with the grandparent
- What affect the visitation right may have on the child and parent
- Analysing that grandparent visitation should not unfairly interfere with the child’s time with parents
- History of abuse or negligence by the grandparents
Visitation rights generally only come into play when one parent believes that the other is not providing the required amount of support for their children. Visitation rights are more complicated when there isn’t any proof that a child has been seriously harmed, such as if one parent merely suspects that the other is not providing enough money or emotional support.
Physical harm is defined as causing physical harm to the child, inviting child abuse charges if child custody and support is contested, or endangering the child’s life if left unsupervised. Psychological harm can include the mother’s attempt to control the child through emotional manipulation; the father’s failure to adequately supervise and encourage his child; or the growing sibling rivalry if one sibling was not formally enrolled into the other sibling’s school programs prior to separation.
Child custody is a very personal situation, and one which should be handled with utmost care. Legal counsel can help you ensure that an agreement is reached that is fair for all parties involved. The custody laws in each state are very specific, and most importantly, they affect the best interest of the child. One mistake can irreparably damage your chances of winning custody back so it is important that you hire an experienced child custody lawyer who will make sure your rights are upheld.
Get in touch with an expert to know more about grandparents rights so as to get an in-depth understanding here.
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