The holidays are a time when grandparents are often put in a very bad position. They may have been used to seeing their grandchildren throughout the holidays, but divorce may change that. If you are a grandparent, do you have any rights at all when it comes to holiday visitation?
Grandparents Rights: A Changing Landscape
While the bad news is that no court has definitively answered the question of grandparent rights, more and more judges are becoming aware that the children’s best interests often include contact with grandparents. In a world in which parents are frequently away from home while working and children are left more to their own devices, grandparents may provide an important part of the family structure. Furthermore, many children have deep and abiding ties with their grandparents that would be ill served by cutting them off completely.
Therefore, while there is no legal precedent for ordering a former spouse to allow her ex-husband’s parents visitation, judges do tend to encourage these types of interactions. Many judges have strong words for women who attempt to cut children off from their husband’s families, and more orders are being entered that are flexible in nature to allow children to see their grandparents more often.
A Tenuous Relationship
Problems often arise when the grandparents have a strained relationship with their own child. For example, if a husband leaves his wife for another woman, the new wife may not get along with the man’s parents. The grandparents may even support the ex’s side of things in the divorce. When this happens, the grandparents are often left out completely when it comes to visitation for the children, as the father may harbor resentment toward his parents for their role in the divorce.
In cases such as this, it may behoove the grandparents to take legal action. However, the precedent for a judge ordering a man to allow his parents to see his children are slim unless the grandparents can somehow prove that the father is unfit. In such cases, grandparents often sue for custody if there is no fit parent to raise the children. In the absence of unfitness the grandparents do not have much legal standing to insist on interacting with the children.
If you are a grandparent struggling with holiday visitation issues, contact the Men’s Legal Center. We work to help families resolve these types of issues quickly and support fathers in their roles as custodial parents with sound legal advice.