In our modern world, we often see instances in which the grandparents have assumed primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren. So when the nuclear family breaks down it is the grandparents that step in to take control of the children’s best interests. But what kinds of rights do grandparents have in terms of visitation?
Whenever a court decides whether a child should be awarded to the parents of the child or his grandparents, it applies certain broad and general principles which reflect the attitude of society in regard to the parent-child relationship. The courts base their decisions on two basic doctrines:
“Parental right” doctrine: This guidepost of child custody cases says that in the absence of particular circumstances the custody of a child should be given to the parent in preference over the grandparent if the parents are found to be fit to have custody and can supply a proper home. This rule is based on the idea that the parent is the natural guardian and custodian of the child and that there is no substitute for his love, affection, and guidance. In other words, the parent always has a superior claim.
“Best interests of child” doctrine: This doctrine says that custody should be awarded in accordance with the best interests of the child regardless of the fitness of the parent. Custody depends on what is right for the child. Some states have a statutory presumption that custody by a parent is in the best interests of the child unless the grandparent can prove otherwise.
Courts almost always consider the decision and wishes of the custodial parent. In the Supreme Court case Troxel v. Granville, the Court held that it is a fundamental liberty of parents to make decisions concerning their child’s custody. It includes the freedom to decide when and with whom minor children can spend their time, and applies to time spent with the grandparents. This means that no matter how involved the grandparent may be involved with their grandchildren, the decision for visitation is ultimately on the custodial parent.
Grandparents that have grandchildren who are in the midst of a divorce are advised to be supportive of both of the parents of the grandchildren, including the ex-spouse. Handling visitation issues with grandparents is a lot easier when the law is not involved. Divorce is always hard, but if you are a grandparent and would like to have an impact on your grandchild, keeping the peace with both parties including the ex-spouse can only work in your favor.
If you have a question regarding Family Law in the San Fernando Valley please contact us at (818) 926-4420 or visit the Family Law section on our website at Law Offices of Anat Resnik. Call today and we will connect you with Anat Resnik, an experienced, aggressive, affordable Divorce and Family Law Attorney in the San Fernando Valley. After you have spoken with our San Fernando Valley Family Law attorney, we can schedule you a free face to face appointment to discuss your circumstances. If you have questions or are considering any aspect of filing for Divorce, a Paternity issues, Child Custody and Visitation, Spousal Support & Alimony, etc. we can help! Call us now at(818) 926-4420. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with any and all family law needs.