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What are grandparent rights in the United States?

As a grandparent, you may want to assert your right to visitation with your grandchildren. This can be a difficult task in some ways, so your attorney may need to help you work through the process. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers.

When did grandparent rights begin to take hold in the USA?

Grandparent visitation rights are newer rights that did not exist many decades ago. In fact, over 40 years ago, grandparents would have had little legal ground to stand on when trying to see their grandchildren. Today, each state in the United States has its own rules and regulations for dealing with the visitation rights owed to grandparents.

What's the purpose of grandparent visitation rights?

The goal of grandparent rights is to give grandparents an opportunity to see their grandchildren, even if their sons or daughters are no longer married or together for one reason or another. There are two main kinds of laws: Restrictive and permissive. With restrictive visitation, grandparents can only seek visitation if one or both parents have died or if the parents are divorced. With permissive, grandparents can request visitation while parents are still alive and married. This situation could come up if the family has, for some reason, determined that the grandparent should not be able to see a child; the grandparent could argue in court to have visitation rights restored.

Third parties can seek visitation rights to see children, but parents who are fit in caring for their children may have a strong say in the court's decision. If a judge determines that seeing a grandparent is in the grandchild's best interests, then it's likely the judge will rule in favor of visitation.

Source: FindLaw, "Grandparent Visitation Rights," accessed April 14, 2016

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