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On FindLaw Answers, the interactive message boards where users can pose questions which are then answered by the greater FindLaw community, we see trends on topics that are important to the question-asking public. A recurring Family Law topic that comes up is about grandparents' rights to custody or visitation of their grandchildren. So, you may be wondering too, do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren?
The short answer is ... it depends! Grandparents don't actually have constitutional rights to custody and any rights recognized are primarily through state law measures. The Supreme Court weighed in on the matter in 2000 in Troxel v. Granville where it held in a 6-3 decision that a Washington statute which allowed any individual to petition for court-ordered right to see a child over the custodial parent's objection, if it was in the child's best interest, violated the parents' due process rights to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
Most states have statutes on grandparent visitation rights. It is key to understand the scope of the state's statute and how it is applied.
If you are a parent trying to edge out a grandparent's involvement in your family's life or a grandparent who finds yourself just trying to stay connected to your grandkids, consider your options as you take steps to pursue your rights. There are collaborative dispute resolution methods such as mediation that involve active participation and discussion by the parties involved that may not only make any visitation agreements smoother between the parties but also for the kids in the middle of it all. Many law firms have attorneys specializing in mediation and there are also local agencies and non-profit organizations that offer such resources.
Here are a few interesting exchanges we have seen on FindLaw Answers Family Law boards on questions related to grandparents' rights.
Also, here are some related resources and links to more information:
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.