I have represented grandparents seeking rights to see their grandchildren for many years.
It was not until I became a grandparent, however, that I began to appreciate the effect of our current laws and how:
- they marginalize grandparents completely out of the family photo album,
- they negatively impact grandchildren by depriving them of an irreplaceable life experience and by affecting the flow of resources from one generation to the next, and
- they shape the fabric of our culture in a negative way.
That’s enough for a book.
I’m guessing that you don’t have time for that.
I’m a pragmatist, too.
I don’t care about your theories. I just want results.
Let’s say that you have grandchildren you love and adore but, for whatever reason, your child impedes you.
Impeding can be passive-aggressive (“Billy can’t see you this weekend – even though it’s your 70th birthday – because the friend he sees every day invited him over for Spam sandwiches.”) or overt (“If you ever want to see LaShonda again, you will do exactly as I say and, even then, it’s dubious because, after all, look how I turned out?”)
You finally get your belly full enough to call an attorney.
The first thing that you learn is that grandparent’s rights is a relatively nuanced and esoteric area of law.
It saddens me to say that the simplest way to explain it to you is to start with the premise:
GRANDPARENTS HAVE NO RIGHTS.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?
We stewards of wisdom unable to pass it on to what lawyers call the “natural objects of our bounty”?
What little good news I have to offer can be summed up by saying:
THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS.
Going over them all here and now would challenge the most passionate reader, so bear with me.
A thorough discussion of this subject must begin with the legal concept of “standing.”
But, that’s not going to happen today.
For today, the lesson is, if you have a situation in which your grandchild’s
“PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD SIGNFICANTLY IMPAIR THE CHILD’S PHYSICAL HEALTH OR EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT,”
you may, indeed, have rights to your grandchildren.
As with all legal rights, however, if you don’t use them, you will probably lose them.
Asserting them may put you into litigation with your child.
In some cases that cannot be avoided.
But, in some it can.
Stay tuned for more about this.
In the meantime, if you are a GP with a problem you would like to discuss, call me at 214-692-1888.