Grandparent’s Basic Rights with Custody in a Divorce Situation
Key Points
  • Grandparents have some basic rights with grandchildren; visitation and/or custody. Parents’ rights are guaranteed under the Constitution so it is difficult to override those rights; but in certain situations parents may even voluntarily surrender custody.
  • States may enact as parens patrie to make decisions about parental control where there may be danger to the children or if the parents are not acting in the best interest of the child.

The Basic Rights of Grandparents:

There are two basic rights with respect to grandparents and their grandchild(ren), custody and visitation. Custody would be the legal rights and obligations consistent with that of the taking on the full-time parenting and rearing of the child(ren). This decision requires a major commitment on behalf of the grandparents and, if the parents are not willing to voluntarily surrender custody, the blessing of the court.

Visitation would be where the court sets a specific schedule of time that grandchild(ren) are to spend with their grandparents. Again, the actual applicable laws vary from state to state, so it is very important to understand exactly which of these laws do and do not apply to your own particular situation. It is wise to seek the advice of a lawyer, or, perhaps more cost effectively, conduct a little independent legal research.

While it is a fact that the rights of parents are guaranteed under the Constitution, this does not mean parents are completely free to do as they please with respect to the rearing of their child(ren). A state can, as "parens patrie", step in and make decisions with regards to parental control of the child(ren) in cases where there is found to be "reasonable relation to any end within the competency of the state." Quite simply put, if the court feels there is enough evidence to substantiate the fact that the parents are not acting in the best interests of the child(ren), then the court will step in and act accordingly.

Suggested Reading
Grandparents Rights
Are you having trouble seeing your grandchildren? Do you have a grandchild who is being neglected or abused? Do you know what your legal rights are? The answer to your problems may lie in this book.

Author: Traci Truly, Attorney at Law

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GRANDPARENTING TIME -- Grandparenting time will ordinarily be governed by the laws of the state where the grandchildren reside.

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