Grandparents fight for visitation rights

It is important for the emotional and intellectual growth of children to know, associate and have contact with their grandparents. During and potentially after a divorce, contact with grandparents may be limited or completely cut off. Ever since the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a state law which allowed grandparents' visitation if it would be in the best interest of the child, it has been more difficult to argue in favor of it.

Nevertheless, grandparents in Florida struggling to see their grandchildren may find it encouraging to know that in West Virginia, grandparents who are unable to visit their grandchildren are not sitting by idly on the issue. Instead, the concerned grandparents have signed a petition for their rights and to help families stay together. Further, they are working to bring about a change at the legislative level. Several of the concerned grandparents are scheduled to meet with government officials to increase support for a change in the law on grandparents' visitation.

Every state is different when it comes to grandparents' visitation rights but since the U.S. Supreme Court decision, many states have struck down their statutes. In Florida, the Supreme Court on several occasions has ruled that the statute granting grandparent visitation is unconstitutional. However, a judge may order the visitation if is in the best interest of the child, a parent has deserted the child or the child was born out of wedlock.

A healthy ongoing relationship between the child and grandparent is important for the child's growth. Despite efforts by grandparents to bring about a change in the law, in general, grandparent rights are limited. Nevertheless, by working with divorcing or divorced parents to include grandparent visitation in visitation agreements, a positive relationship can be fostered.

Source: WBOY, "Grandparents in Barbour County Fighting For Rights," Alex Hines, Oct. 3, 2012

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