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Grandparents, grandchildren and visitation rights

When a grandchild is born, grandparents naturally expect that the new child will be an integral part of the rest of their lives. It's a new relationship that will grow and strengthen both grandparent and grandchild. Life, however, can sometimes get in the way of this relationship. A souring marriage between the child's parents can lead to divorce, which often makes it much more difficult for grandparents to keep in touch with their grandkids.

Following a divorce, the noncustodial parent can sometimes feel cut off or separated from his or her child, as the custodial parent gets most of the custody time. This effect is amplified for the grandparents, who often have few or no opportunities to visit the child.

The fact is, grandparents have no legal right to visitation. While a noncustodial parent has certain legally-assured visitation days, grandparents can only visit their children at the whim of the child's parents. This means grandparents can, in some cases, be shut out altogether.

Grandparents in Minnesota do have options for legal recourse, however. Minnesota law allows grandparent visitation to be worked into the child custody agreement during a divorce. If grandparents can prove that this measure would work in the best interests of the child, it can be accepted into the agreement.

Indeed, many grandparents have made this argument in the past. According to a study by Boston College, a strong relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is valuable to the psychological health of both parties, resulting in fewer symptoms of depression for both grandparent and grandchild.

Of course, in order for grandparent visitation to be accepted into the child custody agreement, grandparents must also show that the measure will not interfere with the child-parent relationship. If this can be done, however, grandparents stand a good chance of securing permanent, legally protected visitation rights with their grandchildren.


Source: 
Emaxhealth.com, "Should Access to Grandchildren be a Legal Right?" Tamar Najarian, Nov. 07, 2013

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