When a marriage begins to deteriorate, the last thing anyone thinks about is the grandparents. Much less the grandparents’ visitation rights. Of course the most important aspect to focus on is the children. Keeping the grandchildren stable in an unstable situation can be an important role for grandparents.
However, that does take some civility between the parents–which isn’t always possible.
As marriages become discarded on a regular basis, it’s becoming clear that grandparents need to take certain precautions.
Ask Granny has these suggestions:
“Whenever possible try to work out an informal agreement that gives you access to the grandchildren. There may be new guidelines and understandings, but at least you have the right to see them on a regular basis.
Realize that the new life situation probably means a decreased amount of time with your grandchildren. They may be moving back and forth between their parents’ homes which is a new and disrupting adjustment for them. Be realistic about the time you’ll have.
If you aren’t able to come to an informal agreement that speaks to your rights for visitations, find an attorney with experience in family law issues. It’s important that your lawyer be up to date with the laws in your area as they vary in the US state by state and in European countries as well.
If you are required to file a petition with the court, be prepared to prove you’ve had an ongoing and positive relationship with your grandchildren. You must prove that it is in the child’s best interests to see you regularly. This may come in the form of documentation of time spent together, pictures of family gatherings, etc. In some cases you’ll need to prove that losing contact with your grandchildren would actually be harmful to them.
If you have acted in a parental capacity for any period of time in the grandchild’s life, it is important that the court be aware of that.”
When our daughter’s marriage began to unravel, we tried to serve as an escape for the children. We opened our home to take the children so the adults could have their heated conversations without little ears.
Stability is important for our grandchildren. In a perfect world, grandparents’ visitation would be as natural as parental visitation. But too often that’s not the case and we can easily lose touch with our grandchildren when they need us the most.
In the absence of court intervention for grandparents’ visitation rights, we have to become creative.
Reaching our grandchildren, on a level outside of their parents’ differences is critical.
Letters are still a good way to reach out. Children still love to get letters. If your grandchild is too young to read, send cards.
It’s also helpful to remember that although we may miss out on some aspects of their childhood, one day they will not be under the jurisdiction of the courts. Nor will they be under the thumb of an angry parent. They will be adults much longer than they are children and still be your grandchildren.