Grandparents Rights

by kris1911 on August 28, 2011

Grand children share a very special bong with their grandparents and their relationships are always somewhat extraordinary. More often than not, grandparents enjoy being able to spend time with their grand kids without extra burden of having to raise the kids and having it as a full time responsibility. I often wonder what makes this relationship one of the most beautiful relationships….it’s amazing to see that grand children see in their grandparents teachers, role models, caretakers, tales from past….but above all that, I feel that that the security and stability that a grandparent extends to his/her grand child is what seals this wonderful bond.

Every so often we have seen that changes within families have led to changes in the relationships that grandparent’s share with their much adored grand children. It could be anything, it could be the child becoming dependent on a drug or alcohol, being incarcerated, it could be losing your child in an accident, or it could even be your children getting divorced and then remarrying and bringing home a step-parent who then adopts or chooses to not adopt your grand kid.

At times such as this, when matters are not able to be solved in a civil manner within the four walls of your house, it is often seen that the law intervenes and matters end up going to court.

People often think and feel- does it make any sense for the law to intervene? Should it even be allowed for the law to decide who a child must choose?

Well, let’s get a deeper understanding of how and what really happens before we insinuate. Whenever the law or a court takes a decision on a grandparent’s rights, the law/court always try to find out a balance between certain values. They seek to do what’s best for a child and in his/her best interest. Also, they try and allow parents to take care of the child as best as they possibly can.

Laws differ from one state to another. The Wisconsin statuses have provided for the legal visitation rights meant for grandparents under the below mentioned circumstances:

  • When a step-parent adopts
  • In case of a divorce
  • In case the grandchild’s parent passes away
  • In case parenthood has been recognized as the grandkid was born out of the marriage

The interest or the wishes of a grandparent aren’t a part of the essential factors that are considered by the law when making decisions on who should take care of a child.

There are certain common situations in which grandparent’s find themselves and struggle for they have no information. We have tried to target a few, and we hope that we have been able to help you.

  • What if my child dies and the parent who survives does not allow me to visit my grandchild?

In such a case, you should seek assistance from your attorney and petition the court where the grandchild lives so that the court can allow you rights to a reasonable visitation and you can see your grandchild.

The visitation rights will be given to you only when the court determines that it’s in the child’s best interest and for the child’s welfare. For instance the law/court may consider the following*:

Enthusiasm of grandparent/s to support a close rapport b/w the kid and the parent/s;

The quality and length of the preceding relationship shared b/w the kid and the grandparent/s;

The inclination of the kid in case the kid is agreed upon as being of adequate maturity to state a preference;

The child’s physical & mental health;

The grandparent/s physical & mental health.

(* in the case of Florida Statuses)

  • What if my grandchild’s parents are getting divorced? Will I still have rights for visiting my grandchildren?

In such a case, you should seek assistance from your attorney and petition the court where the grandchild lives so that the court can allow you rights to a reasonable visitation and you can see your grandchild. You need to appeal in court regarding your visitation rights once your daughter or son and their spouse have begun the proceedings for their divorce. Your current relationship with them does not have to matter at all in this case.

The court will consider what amount of personal time you’ve shared with the grandchild and the parent/s before you appealed in court. In case the court permits you with visitation rights, the court WILL set certain conditions or maybe restrictions on the visits.

  • What if my child passes away and I wish to gain custody of my grandchild as I think I would be able to bring him/her up better?

In certain state courts, it is the parents that are viewed as natural guardians for their child. Therefore, it is the parent who has survived who will have the primary legal right to custody.

Such a right will be disregarded only through a legal proceeding if it can be proved that:

The capability of the parent to offer care is extremely inadequate and the child’s health, welfare, and safety are being compromised on,

Other extraordinary circumstance crops up.

The custody will then be granted by law to a social service department who will place the child temporarily with another family (could be the grandparents). Even in this case, it is only a child’s physical placement and NOT the child’s custody that lies with the grandparent.

  • What if my grandchild is being abused and neglected by his/her parents? What are the actions that I am entitled to take?

States have telephone help lines for child protection. Any social worker who answers such a line over weekdays will be able to assist you understand the true meaning of neglect and abuse (as the law sees it). These social workers will also assist you in how a report for abuse or neglect are to be made, what the steps are that the social and service departments will be taking once you’ve reported such a report.

Possible Care Alternatives & Eligibility for a Support Program

Alternatives For Care Potential Payment By A Court Order Child Entitled For The Support Program* Who Generally Has Lawful Custody
Physical Placement No No Yes  A Child Welfare Organization*
Legal Custody No Yes Yes A Child Welfare Organization *
Kinship Care Yes Yes Yes A Child Welfare Organization *
Foster Care Yes Yes Yes A Child Welfare Organization *
Guardianship No Yes The Grandparent(S) Income Isn’t Considered Grandparent (s)
Adoption No Yes The Grandparent(S) Income Isn’t Considered Grandparent (s

*In majority counties, you’ll require to make contact with the social service departments.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen A. Wyle August 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm

You say in your column:
“■What if my grandchild’s parents are getting divorced? Will I still have rights for visiting my grandchildren?
“In such a case, you should seek assistance from your attorney and petition the court where the grandchild lives so that the court can allow you rights to a reasonable visitation and you can see your grandchild.”

It is one thing to say that this would be the next step for someone determined to litigate. Perhaps that is what you intended to say. However, your phrasing suggests that this is the appropriate and desirable way to proceed. I must strongly disagree.

Grandparent visitation litigation tends to be tragically counterproductive. Its impact is very often devastating for the custodial family, definitely including the child. These are typically highly emotional and very expensive lawsuits. Positions harden, so that future amicable or even civil relations between parent and grandparents are far less likely. Legal fees consume resources that should go toward everything from summer vacations to new clothes to the child’s college fund to maintaining the family’s basic standard of living. The stress of the litigation makes it more difficult for the parent to provide nurturing and emotional stability. If visitation is eventually ordered, the child is caught in a years-long emotional cross-fire. Additional litigation is very common, extending all these negative consequences.


Ketevan November 3, 2011 at 5:14 am

When a divorced mother works full-time and has practically only Saturday and Sunday to spend with her children,is it reccommended to share the children’s time with the grandparents or it would be better if grandparents take the children to their place during a week or in the evenings after their kindergarten as many times, as they want and give a mother a possibility of spending the whole week-end with her children.


larry johnson November 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

what do you do when you try to love your 13 yr. old granddaughter and all you get back is abuse. My granddaughters father died and now my daughter is remarried. We took in my granddaughter because we love her. I dont know whats happened but one minute shes happy then the next minute she hates us. she even gets physical w/ her grandmother. they were very close but not anymore. We need someone to see her.A doctor, psychiatrist somone. We love her so much but she says she wants us to die. she says she hates us. ever since the father died its been like this. Is there anywhere we can turn.We tried the church,friends,co-workers anyone who will try to help.

larry johnson,1400 s northern


Debbie Frye December 22, 2011 at 6:25 am

I was interested in your artical due to my situation. I had raised 2 granddaughter for 7 years not by court order but by consent of the parents. Who did not want to parent there own children. So I did all the duties of a parent. The girls lived with me between 85 to 90% of there lives since about the age of 2years old. I was the parent who took them to school, volunteered in there school, girl scout, baseball, gymnastics, tap & ballet and theater classs. I paid for all expenses including there clothing, food items they needed. The girls lived at my home only going home sometimes 2 days a week. The parents were verbaly abusive to the girls. The girls did not want to go home with the parnets and would cry to stay with me the grandmother. I took them to doctors, dentist, eye appointment because the parents would not take them. Both parents signed a note allowing me to take the girls. So for 7 years I did. I enrolled them in school. I trully was there parent. A year and a half ago I was completly stopped from seeing the girls. All because of a family jealousy. These granddaughters are my older sons girls but because my younger son married my daughter in laws younger sister which she is extremely jealous of they forced me to take sides. When I did not they took away the girls. I currently have a court case that I have been fighting for 1 1/2 years. Unfortunaly in the eyes of the law they are considered a “intact” family. Which leaves me little recourse in court. I found a attorney who is trying to fight “intact” family. I feel so hopeless about my court trial hearing in March 2011. Both parents are unstable and care nothing about the right to be loved by those who they also love. But they hold all the cards in court. I The parents don’t care or want what is the best interest of the girls they only want to win as they have always been controlling. The parents have used and threatened me with my giving them money amoung other stuff they wanted. If I did not give them what they wanted they would say them were coming to get the girls. I have been dealing with this for last 9 years. So I would give them what ever they asked for. I have witnessed the way the parents treat the girls with mental abuse and cursing at the girls. Unfortunaly the court doesn’t see mental abuse like physcial abuse so I could do noting over the years. So I just did what ever my daughter in law said. The mother has many mental problems and has managed to turn my son against his family over her younger sister marring my other son. If you can offer any information to help with my court case I welcome it. My attorney is going in under the “intact” family where it says not withstanding any other. Using it’s determental to the children. I would like to see the law changed to help myself and other grandparents in my situation. I attend a grandparent group here in California ( If I were a over bearing grandparent or parent I could see the parents having an issue with me but hurting the girls out of pure jealously is extremely abusive. I girls only know me as there provider and protecter. It seem know one cares about the rights of the children. My granddaughters I can say are extremely pained by what is happening. I am not dealing with the normal parent who only wants what is best for there children. If you can help please contact me.

Sincerely Debbie Frye
(760) 217-4112
13586 Ladrillo Way
Victorville, CA 92392


Nancy February 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

My son has children from 2 different women. The first one had him sign over and terminated his rights. The second one is in the process of doing the same. He lost his job and has not been able to pay the child support. Is there any way I can have grandparent rights on these children? I miss them so much! The first one I raised the first year of his life. The second 2 I raised for the first 3 years.


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