Marital Status Determines Grandparent Access

The grandparent-grandchild relationship is supposed to be a whole and separate one, but there are too many external factors that interfere with that notion. For instance, when parents feel threatened fearing their child will love grandma more than them or that grandma loves the grandchild more than them, then that poses a threat to the relationship. The parent’s insecurity can set the wheels in motion for future alienation.

Sometimes it’s a miscommunication that leads to a family feud or the death of one of the parents. Circumstances are always changing and affecting family dynamics including the ever fragile grandparent-grandchild relationship.

The parents control the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, that’s just the way things are. As long as grandparents don’t rock the boat and remain within those designated boundaries set by the parent(s) the relationship has a better chance of survival, but just remember there are no guarantees.

It seems reasonable to assume that more grandparents today are finding themselves alienated from their extended family. Most try to work out the problems without outside intervention, but after all else fails, then litigation is likely to be the next step.

All fifty states have grandparent visitation laws, that are unique unto themselves. There are some common denominators that many share while others stand far apart. Most states, for instance include as the criteria to file a petition for grandparent visitation, that one of the parents is deceased. The other provision is when the parents are divorced or living separately. Another criteria that is gaining ground is the “stepparent adoption” factor. With so many fractured families, as a result of divorce or wedlock many homes are now blended. Whether it’s a re-marriage or first time marriage the stepparent frequently adopts the children, and when this happens there are consequences to the relationship between the child and bio grandparent. About half of the states have statutes that provide grandparents standing in court to file a petition for visitation following a stepparent adoption. If there has been a pre-exisiting bond, the adoption should not cut off that relationship. However, in the remaining states grandparents lose their rights along with the parent whose rights were terminated. There are only a few states that allow grandparents the right to petition the court while the biological parents are together.

What is perplexing is that the parents’ marital status is the determining factor in granting visitation and drafting laws.

So why is a grandparent able to get into court when the parents are divorced but not when they are married? Or when there has been a stepparent adoption, a grandparent frequently may file a petition. It’s worth mentioning that in reality the stepparent adoption family is no different than the intact family because the stepparent is the new parent. None of this makes sense, the child and the grandparent still have a bond no matter if the parents are apart or together.

It seems that something is amiss when an established bond between a child and a loving grandparent takes a back seat to the marital status of the parents when determining whether the relationship is allowed to continue.