Families can be torn apart through divorce, estrangement, or the death of a parent. When any of these occur, the court needs to decide what is in the best interest of any children involved. Grandparents on either side of the family may feel as though they deserve visitation, even if a parent is preventing such relationships. Fortunately, there are laws in place to at least give grandparents a chance to make their case for why they should see their grandchildren.

State Laws

Most states have permissive visitation statutes on the books, allowing grandparents to make a case for why they should see their grandchildren regardless of whether the parents are together. Every state has its own unique laws concerning visitation rights for grandparents. Research your state’s guidelines to see what is permitted by state law or speak with a visitation attorney in your area.

Previous Case Law

Troxel vs. Granville was a Supreme Court case in 2000 which found that state courts cannot violate parents’ rights to raise their children in a way they view is best. Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide what is best for the care and well-being of their children. However, there was still leeway in this ruling that a court could overturn a parent’s decision if it was deemed to be in the child's best interest.

Privilege or right

Due to the fact that the Supreme Court only made a decision concerning that individual case, it has been up to the states to determine their own laws regarding grandparent visitation. Since the decision in Troxel vs. Granville, many state courts have given preference to whatever the parent decides is ideal. In many instances, grandparent visitation rights are viewed as a privilege instead of a right.

If you are unhappy with the arrangement you have with a child’s parents to see your grandchildren, then you may have a case to argue. Every situation is different, and your exact circumstances can be brought to the attention of a court for a decision to be made. Do more research in your state to learn more about what actions you have at your disposal.