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Child Custody - Parents vs. Grandparent

In 2000, the United States Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), made a landmark decision regarding the visitation rights of grandparents. The Court held that it is a fundamental liberty of parents to make decisions concerning their child's custody. It includes the freedom to decide when and with whom minor children can spend their time, and applies to time spent with grandparents.

While hearing a petition filed by grandparents for visitation rights, courts almost always consider the decision and wishes of the custodial parent. Importance is given to the objections of the parent regarding the visitation of the grandparents. Even in the ruling of the Troxel case, the U.S. Supreme Court advised parents to adopt a relaxed attitude. It urged them to strive towards building an amicable bonding between the grandparents and grandchildren. Many legal experts have opined that one of the best ways to resolve such a conflict is to discuss the matter with the parents rather than involving the legal system. Discussions can take place openly, through attorneys, via mediation, or through some form of alternative dispute resolution. Communication between the parents and grandparents can eliminate misunderstandings and can prove to be far more productive than intervention of the legal system, while also preserving the relationship.

Apart from these considerations, there are certain general guidelines which can be followed by the grandparents. When a parent of your grandchildren decides to remarry, it may be best to encourage and support him or her. This can generate positive feelings and synergy between the parent, grandparent, and the children. It is essential that grandparents be able to prove that their visits would be in the best interest of the children. Therefore, grandparents would do well to avoid speaking negatively about the parent and avoid creating conflict. With a little bit of perseverance and flexible behavior with the parents, grandparents may be able to build and preserve a consistent and caring relationship with their grandchildren, which might have otherwise been severed.


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