If there are changes to a family unit because of death, divorce, or a separation and you are no longer able to visit your grandchildren, you may have rights. Grandparents who have a strong, established relationship with their grandchildren should be allowed to maintain a relationship for the benefit of the children no matter what. Unfortunately for some grandparents and their grandchildren, those who obtain custody of children because of a death or divorce may not allow for visits to continue. This is detrimental to the child, and grandparents may have a right to sue for visitation rights. It's a complicated process, and it is best to work with an attorney to see if you have any recourse.
Laws to Protect Grandparents Visitation Vary By State
There are no federal laws that protect the rights of grandparents to visit with their grandchildren at this time. Each state has their own set of laws to protect the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild, and sometimes the laws don't protect the relationship at all. The law gets convoluted fast, but if you have been estranged from a grandchild because of the death of a parent, separation, or divorce, you may have the right to visitation.
The Best Interests of the Children
Most family court systems throughout the United States consider what is in the best interests of the children involved in any case. If you have a close relationship with your grandchildren and you have been an integral part of their life, a court can take this into consideration when looking at visitation rights. If you are not allowed to see your grandchildren simply because you are estranged from their parents, you will not have the right to sue for visitation. When changes to the family occur, you may be able to seek visitation.
When You've Had a Previous Parental Role
If you have been involved in raising your grandchildren or had temporary custody in the past, you may have more leverage when filing in court for visitation. If your grandchildren are in the foster care system, you might be able to gain temporary custody or become their foster parent.
It is hard to lose touch with the grandchildren you love. If you have suddenly lost your ability to visit with your grandchildren, it's time to find legal help. Grandparents rights laws are different in each state and legal representation is the only way to learn what your rights are.