Divorce tears everyone’s world apart, literally and figuratively. Battles over property, finances and retirement funds can rage on for months, and sometimes even years. Parents may find themselves fighting over custody, where the children will spend their holidays and who pays for orthodontic work and school fees. The children may find themselves caught in the crossfire, and friends and family may feel uncomfortable weighing in on every issue. Grandparents, sometimes the best stabilizing force for the children around, may be left out in the cold.
If the grandparents are fit caregivers and the children wish to continue their relationship with their grandparents, parents may have no problems allowing their children to see their grandparents as often as possible. It is conceivable, however, that one parent, perhaps afraid of being judged or concerned that her in-laws will inadvertently be nasty about the divorce, will refuse to let her children see her in-laws, their grandparents. If that situation occurs, the grandparents may wish to consult a lawyer and petition the court for visitation rights.
The laws for grandparent visitation rights vary from state to state. Minnesota law, for example, works to protect grandparents’ rights. In general, however, the court will consider a number of factors in an attempt to determine what is in the best interests of the child before making a decision.
During a rocky divorce, grandparents who are loving, nurturing, supportive and willing to stay neutral, can provide their grandchildren with shelter from the storm. They can also offer parents much-needed relief and space. Parents, however, do not always view grandparents in this light. If your child is going through a divorce and you suddenly find yourself being prevented from seeing and caring for your grandchildren, you may wish to consult a family attorney to help you enforce your rights.