You may imagine that a grandparent should always have access to their grandchildren. But when it comes to complicated relationships with adult children or custody agreements after a messy divorce, grandparents could be left with limited communication with their grandchildren.
In these cases, do grandparents have the right to file for legal access to their grandchildren? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The laws protect a parent’s right to their grandchildren, but not a grandparent’s right. After all, it is ultimately the custodial parent’s decision as to who can see their children and when.
When a Grandparent Can Petition for Visitation Rights
If your adult child is going through a divorce, is deceased, or is incapacitated, the law allows the grandparent to petition for visitation. But it is rare for the court to rule in the grandparent’s favor. And in cases of adoption, a biological grandparent does not have access to the child unless a step-parent adopts them.
From a grandparent’s point of view, you may feel lost and helpless, wondering when you will see the children you love so dearly. The best thing you can do is maintain amicable relationships with your adult child and their co-parent in order to step in and help as needed with caring for the children.
Read on for tips on respecting boundaries as a grandparent and staying on good terms with your grandchildren’s parents.
Respecting Boundaries As a Grandparent
When you show that you can follow guidelines and instructions set by the parents instead of overriding parents and doing what you think is best, you are more likely to stay on good terms. Then you will be able to see your grandchildren and keep a close relationship with them.
Here are some tips:
· Respect Parent’s Rules: Although part of being a grandparent is the opportunity to be a carefree and spontaneous caretaker, there are rules to keep. If the child has a bedtime, dietary restrictions, or screen time limits, it is your job to support the parent by following the rules.
· Do Not Change the Child’s Appearance: Ultimately, a parent is in charge of their child and how they keep their hair, clothing, and personal hygiene. Of course, you can encourage bathing and can even gift new clothing. But when it comes to permanent changes like haircuts, leave those decisions to the parents.
· Offer Help without Strings Attached: As a grandparent, you have the opportunity to help out during an overwhelming time in life that you may remember. Offer to care for the children while parents are at school or work without expecting something in return.
· Avoid Comparisons: It may be second nature to tell stories about when you were the parent’s age and raising children. However, avoid minimizing your adult child or co-parent by comparing what you would have done. Instead, offer advice only when asked and try to steer clear of making judgments.
· Do Not Interfere with Family Planning: Do you feel it is time for another grandbaby? Keep it to yourself. Let your adult child make their own decisions regarding family planning.
At Miles & Hatcher, LLP, we know how helpless it must feel to be a grandparent who cannot see their own grandchildren. Learn about your rights and how you can keep a close relationship with your grandchildren. Call to set up a meeting today: (909) 481-4080.