Many of Arizona’s grandparents have close bonds with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, though, these relationships may be in danger when the parents of these grandchildren divorce. In those instances, a grandparent can be squeezed out of the situation and denied their right to see their grandchildren. When this happens, grandparents may have to take legal action to acquire and protect their grandparents’ rights.
In Tucson, there are many grandparents who believe their grandchildren are in unsuitable homes. In fact, Tucson’s KARE Family Center, received 1,500 calls in 2013, 60 percent of which were from concerned grandparents. The total number of calls was up 500 from 2011. Grandparents who wish to maintain contact with their grandchildren but are denied this right in a divorce proceeding, or grandparents who think their grandchildren have unfit parents, may find the legal process confusing and working against them. But there are steps that can be taken to protect the bond created by a grandparent’s relationship with grandchildren.
First, grandparents should consult with an attorney. In many child custody, visitation, and guardianship cases, each parent and the child may have an attorney, but a grandparent may not automatically think to obtain one. This can put a grandparent at a severe disadvantage.
Second, grandparents should think about what they want. Knowing whether or not he or she wants custody rights, visitation rights, or guardianship can help a grandparent and his or her attorney craft a legal strategy that furthers that interest.
In the end, obtaining a local attorney will give grandparents the chance they deserve of having a say in the care of their grandchildren. Child custody, visitation, and guardianship decisions are made based on the best interest of the child, and an attorney can help grandparents convey why they are best suited to support those interests.
Source: Arizona Daily Star, “When families dissolve, grandparents often squeezed out,” Patty Machelor, Jun. 16, 2014