The concept of grandparent rights education is a relatively new one. When a relationship between parents has broken down, grandparents are often left without access to their grandchildren. This is a very painful situation for both grandparents and children.
The relationship between a child and his or her grandparent or grandparents can be a positive one for all involved. People are living longer and in better health. The likelihood of a minor child having living grandparents is higher than ever.
Grandparents can be motivating role models for their grandchildren. They are also an important source of family history. A good relationship with a grandparent can only help to raise a child's self-esteem. Grandparents benefit from seeing their grandchildren as well. Having regular social contact with others can help to prevent depression in seniors.
Grandparents and the Law
In the United States, laws exist to protect grandparents' rights. Each state has enacted a law designed to give grandparents visitation rights.
Permissive Visitation Laws
The majority of states have adopted permissive visitation laws. A grandparent can petition the court for visitation rights, even if a death or divorce has not occurred in the family.
Restrictive Visitation Laws
The remaining states, which number approximately 20, have restrictive visitation laws in effect. The restrictions on grandparents seeking visitation rights are that visitation will only be granted in the event of death or divorce.
Supreme Court Decision
In 2000, the United States Supreme Court was asked to review a ruling from a lower court on the issue of grandparents rights. In the case of Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), grandparents asked the Court to grant them visitation with their son's children after the son's death. The children's mother objected to the amount of access the grandparents requested.
The Supreme Court found that parents have the right to make decisions about what course of action is in the best interests of their children. This does not mean that giving grandparents visitation rights is detrimental to the grandchildren. The Court recognizes that having contact with grandparents and maintaining a relationship with them is a positive factor in most cases.
Resources for Grandparent Rights Education
- Grandparents looking to exercise their legal rights surrounding visitation and grandchildren need to first research the law in their state.
- Mediation can be a helpful way to determine what the issues are and then come up with a workable solution. If a remedy can be found outside of the legal system, then all parties will certainly benefit. Visit the Association for Conflict Resolution for more information.
- AARP has a Grandparents Information Center that links to additional resources in your community.