Family dynamics are constantly in a state of flux. What were once the non-traditional families of yesterday are normal today. More grandparents are raising their grandchildren, civil unions are recognized and more children are growing up in single parent homes and homes with a step-parent. Fortunately, the law seeks to protect the best interests of the child, so the law stays in tune with these changing familial dynamics.
Therefore, grandparents who may be at risk of losing visitation with their grandchildren may want to be aware of their legal rights. After all, grandparents can have a strong bond with their grandchildren. They may be an exceptional role model, provide a sense of familial history and shower a grandchild with much needed love and affection. Without a grandparent in his or her life, a child's best interests may not be served.
But exercising grandparents' rights is not always easy. As mentioned, a court will look to the best interests of the child to determine whether grandparent visitation or custody is appropriate. A judge may look at the relationship with grandchildren, assessing whether it adds to a child's development, growth and emotional stability. Thus, even if a grandparent is not currently seeking to exercise his or her rights, it is still a good idea to consider strengthening the bond with his or her grandchild. This can be done by visiting often, staying in touch via the internet, taking and sharing photos, sending electronic and physical mail, sharing hobbies and traditions and even creating a family tree. It is also important to promote and maintain safety when a grandchild visits or when visiting a grandchild.
Many times, emotions can flare when grandparents' rights are threatened. However, by speaking with an experienced family-law attorney, these individuals can discover their rights and learn how best to act on them with their grandchildren's best interests at heart.
Source: Kids Health, "Bonding With Grandparents," accessed on Mar. 23, 2015