With more than 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce, children, in today’s society, are struggling to cope with the aspect of parental visitation. For many children, unfortunately, visitation with a non-custodial parent often is not maintained as ordered by a court of law. For a variety of reasons, non-custodial parents do not, or can not, visit with children on the designated visitation date established in paternity and divorce records. To this issue is the added detriment a divorce or paternity establishment can have on the grandparents of a child, both non-custodial and custodial sides of the family. As a result, many grandparents are turning to the legal system in an effort to obtain the desired visitation with grandchildren. Known as Grandparent’s Rights, visitation, beyond the control of the parents and legal guardians, is a growing phenomenon.
Specifically, under The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act, signed into law in 1998, grandparents, today, are provided with the benefit of child visitation no matter what jurisdiction the child may reside. Prior to the signature of this Act, grandparents were commonly awarded visitation rights within the jurisdiction of residency. However, upon move by the custodial parent, the grandparents were commonly faced with addition litigation in an effort to obtain visitation as grandparents in the child’s new state of residency. Creating a financial disaster for grandparents, the United States Congress passed The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act which provides for visitation of non-custodial children without regard to the residency jurisdiction.
As with any legal matter, especially those involving children, some grandparents have faced great scrutiny over the pursuit of visitation. In some state, The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act has been interpreted loosely providing many grandparents with no visitation rights of grandchildren in specific situations, i.e. death of a child. In other words, even with The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act, grandparents are never assured, with 100 percent guarantee, of the ongoing access to a grandchild.
For this reason, as a grandparent, when facing loss of a grandchild due to divorce or separation by the parents, steps to assure open communication with the custodial parent or legal guardian will provide for the most optimal outcome in light of the ongoing legal discord. As a grandparent, extending compassion and love to the parents of the children is crucial to maintaining access to the children. Except in cases where illegal activity is involved, or cases of abuse, grandparents should work, aggressively, to amend the relationship of their own children and in-laws to assure ongoing access to grand children. In doing so, the use of legal document to procure visitation of grandchildren, may not be necessary.