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Legal Visitation Rights of Grandparents

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Often, minor children share a special bond with their grandparents. But during the times of divorce or death of a parent, the grandparents suddenly lose the legal right to visit or take care of their grandchildren. Such complex problem involving sentiments and deep emotions are quite common in the United States. All 50 states within the US have individual statutes and laws that permit grandparents to visit their grandchildren.

Due to increased rate in divorces and children resorting to drug abuse, the role of grandparents as caretakers of their grandchildren has become even more prominent. Many grandparents are taking up the responsibility of child-care especially in the case of working parents. A decision was taken by the US Supreme Court in 2000 regarding grandparent visitation rights, according to which, although parents have significant authority in making decisions regarding the child, they cannot limit the visit of grandparents. Specifically, under The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act signed in 1998, grandparents may have a right to visit their grandchildren irrespective of the residence of the child.

According to the constitution, a grandparent who wants to seek legal permission to visit his grandchild must submit a petition before the Superior Court of the State. Various factors such as the relationship of the applicant with the parent, the relationship between the child and the applicant, applicant’s physical, mental and criminal records, preference of the child and the good faith of the applicant are considered before giving any legal permission. But the most important criteria that the court considers before granting this right is, whether the visit of the grandparent would be beneficial to the child or not.

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