Parent and Grandparent Animosity in Custody Issues
Key Points
  • Grandparents may have visitation rights but going to court to exercise these rights may show some animosity between parents and grandparents.
  • Animosity between parents and grandparents is harmful where the children are concerned and if too much negativity is present, the court will always decide in favor of the "best interest" of the child.
  • Grandparents and parents should always try to work out an agreement where visitation is concerned. The child should not have to choose between mom and dad, nor should the child have to choose between a parent and grandparent.

Animosity Between Parents & Grandparents

In any situation where a grandparent goes to court in an attempt to secure visitation rights, it is naturally assumed that there must be animosity amongst the respective family members. The rationale is that if such animosity did not exist, there would be no need for the intervention of the court. Case histories have amply demonstrated that even when the grandparents are awarded a visitation schedule, the parents who oppose are not likely to comply with the court order. While grandparents do have outlets to enforce court orders, such as contempt and incarceration, it is generally recognized that the existing animosity will only increase. Often, the court takes this into consideration as they feel that such situations only serve to increase the stress placed upon the child(ren) and therefore work against the "best interests" theory.

Courts will always be concerned that such animosity between parents and grandparents will be openly displayed towards one another in the presence of the child(ren). Such displays are considered to be harmful to the child(ren). Also, the court assumes that it is not unnatural for a visiting grandparent to express negative thoughts towards the parent; this, too, is also considered to be harmful to the child(ren). In cases where the grandparents are financially secure and can afford protracted litigation, the court is aware of the fact that children are apt to become mere pawns in the struggle between the parents and grandparents.

Taking these considerations as a given, it is widely recommended that some sort of agreement between the parents and grandparents be reached outside of court. Often, the use of mediation by a third party is an effective means to that end. Sometimes the third party comes in the form of a mutually respected family friend, in some cases it requires the employment of a professional. In the unfortunate circumstance that agreement cannot be reached, grandparents are encouraged to seek the advice of legal professionals, as the applicable laws are sometimes difficult to understand and will differ from state to state.

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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GRANDPARENTS DO HAVE RIGHTS -- Grandparents in every state have rights, in some circumstances, to be awarded custody of their grandchildren or to be awarded court-mandated visitation with them. However, grandparents' rights are not constitutional in nature, nor do they exist in common law. Recognition of grandparents' rights by state legislatures is a fairly recent trend, and most of the statutes have been in effect for less than 35 years.

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