Do grandparents have a right to see their grandchildren?

Families grow through marriage. Newlyweds welcome each other's families into their lives. When children come into the picture, family dynamics may increase and grandparents may play an active role in the care of their grandchildren and upbringing. Potentially they may provide free or affordable childcare when needed, pay for their education, extra-curricular activities and more. But, when a marriage with children ends in divorce with potentially long and bitter child custody and visitation issues, what happens to a grandparent's rights to see his or her grandchildren?

Florida grandparents struggling to see their grandchildren may find it interesting to know that recently a group of grandparents rallied outside as West Virginia County Courthouse to get more visitation rights. Often, grandparents might be more interested in visitation, rather than custody of their grandchildren. They might simply want to be able to spend time and see their grandchildren on a regular basis. In this case, those at the rally had various personal stories such as after their children divorced, they could not see their grandchildren or when the parents of the children passed away, instead of being placed with the grandparents, they were placed with other people. Some hope to take their concerns and lack of access to their grandchildren to the legislature.

State laws on the issue of grandparent rights vary. Currently, in Florida a judge may order the visitation if it is in the best interest of the child, a parent has deserted the child or the child was born out of wedlock. But, on several occasions the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the statute granting grandparent visitation is unconstitutional.

Depriving children the love of their grandparents is not in the best interest of the child. Divorced or divorcing parties should try to set aside their differences to draft a mutually agreeable visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent which, at some level, includes contact with the non-custodial parent's parents. Generally, grandparent rights are limited but by working with parents in including grandparent visitation in visitation schedules, a positive relationship can be fostered.

Source: WDTV, "Grandparents Rally for Visitation Rights," Nicole Porter, Sept. 5, 2012

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