What Are The Rights of Grandparents When a Couple Divorces?

Grandparents Rights in a Divorce

No one enters into marriage thinking about what will happen when it ends. Unfortunately, the reality is that not all relationships last and when divorcing couples have children, these matters become significantly more complicated. 

As a Grandparent, What Rights Do You Have When a Couple Decides To Split And Child Custody Issues Become Complicated? 

The short answer is that grandparent visitation is state dependent

As a general rule, a grandparent's visitation revolves around the schedule of the parents, and in the case of a separation or divorce, usually around the custody arrangements of the grandparent’s son or daughter.

While most families are able to figure out solutions that work for all parties, many situations become complex as custody agreements become difficult to manage between the two parents. 

In that case, it is important to recognize what, if any, rights a grandparent has when it comes to visitation—and determining if he or she needs to seek the court’s assistance in establishing visitation. 

How Should You Petition for Legal Visitation as a Grandparent? 

1. Gather all your facts. 

When you make a petition before the court, you have to show that you are a fit caregiver and your presence in your grandchild's life will be in the best interest of him or her. If the child is older and you have had prior visitation experiences—either with or without the parents (holidays, weekend visits, summer visits, etc.)--make note of that, as establishing prior connections is a key element in a court’s decision. 

2. Determine if you want to self-petition or seek out the assistance of an attorney. 

Again, every state is different, but any legal matter done on your own (pro se), can become very complicated—very fast. 


If you intend to file the petition yourself, obtain the necessary form from the court, and complete it to the best of your ability using the facts and information relevant to the issues identified above. 

Seeking Legal Assistance 

If you intend to seek the assistance of an attorney, you want to focus your search on attorneys that practice family law and specialize in grandparent’s rights. 

3. Written Contract 

Determine upfront any fees, financial commitments and anticipated timelines. Never move forward with representation unless you have an understanding of what exactly the attorney can and/or will do for you. 

Legal cases take time, and those involving family law can be especially complicated. Make sure that you understand up front what the financial burden will be. 

Let Family Law Legal Assistance Find You 

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Posted - 11/12/2015