When considering family rights, most people only think of parental rights; yet the grandparents of children have certain rights as well. Attorneys who practice family law say grandparent rights were instituted about seventy years ago within family law and are now recognized in every state. These rights came from a need to provide grandparents the rights to see their grandchildren despite familial concerns that can arise, especially during or after a divorce. Grandparents are now protected with laws that let them remain a part of a grandchild’s life.

Grandparent Rights – How It Began

In the past, multiple family generations lived together to more easily provide for everyone and retain close family bonds. Even when disputes arose, families remained physically close in many societies, so visitation was rarely a problem. As family structures have changed and families became more spread apart, visitation in some cases became much more difficult. While most families do what is necessary to preserve familial bonds despite increasing physical distances between generations, attorneys who specialize in family law say this is not always the case when there disputes or separations arise between family members.

Because of the growing concern involving this specific issue, lawyers who help clients with family law issues report that the first grandparent visitation statutes were passed in 1960 to protect those rights. By 1990, every state had these laws that remain in place today.

Grandparent Rights – Current Factors

Family law attorneys say today’s grandparent laws provide more than just visitation rights; they also provide certain custodial rights if a situation should arise that endangers a grandchild or requires grandparents to step in as custodians. These additions to general visitation rights exist in all states, for two main reasons:

  • Increased Drug Use – Increased alcohol and drug use among certain populations of Americans, including many parents of young children, has resulted in a great risk for children who are being increasingly removed from parental care.

  • Unstable Economy – The economy has left many families with young children unable to survive, putting increasing numbers of grandparents in the position of raising their grandchildren.

Grandparent Rights – Current Grandparent Laws

Due to the above developments, grandparents now have distinct rights in every state, both visitation and even custody if it can be shown that a child’s parents are unfit and not providing proper or necessary care for minor children. With the dedicated work of lawyers who deal primarily with family law issues, grandparents may petition for visitation rights or even for custody of a minor grandchild. These laws apply to maternal and paternal grandparents as well as frequently step-grandparents. If an actual relationship was previously established, the grandparents of children born out of wedlock are also recognized so that such relationships can continue despite separation, remarriage, or even death. There are many different ways grandparents are now protected and can seek the court’s approval to let them maintain relationships with their grandchildren.

The area of family law has become increasingly complex over the years, with the exercising and protection of grandparent rights just one of its many responsibilities. Grandparents have more rights than before when it comes to both visitation rights and petitioning for custody of grandchildren. The family law court system is primarily interested in the welfare of minor children. With the help of experienced family law attorneys, grandparents can apply for and gain visitation or custody rights if necessary – which is proving to be a great resource for the benefit of at-risk minor children!

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