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Grandparents' rights during and after divorce

Most states do not protect a grandparent's right to see their grandchild. The issue is not as clear cut as custody between parents or parenting time agreements, in large part because a family's relationship with grandparents can change significantly over time. In some unique cases courts may grant primary custody to a grandparent, but this is less common than families making their own arrangement for visits.

Family law experts say that grandparents have a variety of options if they want to spend more time with their grandchildren, but that many of them might be costly. However, with senior today living at an income ratio of 47 to one compared with the typical young parent, money may be one good option for grandparents looking to gain access to grandchildren.

The mechanics of this can be complex, though. Some family law attorneys say that they have seen parents ask for payment per-visit or mention home repairs or a new car during a conversation about grandparents seeing their children. While this may be an acceptable option for some families, others prefer to organize giving to their grandchildren in a different way. Some experts recommended specified gifts such as vacations or a college fund. Others say that it's important to think carefully about financial support and how it could impact spousal support payments.

Regardless of which arrangement is right for a particular family, it may be helpful to consult with a family law attorney to get advice on making a thoughtful plan for visitation and financial support for grandchildren.

Source: Reuters, "Grandparents, purse strings and divorce," Temma Ehrenfeld, July 23, 2012.

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