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Divorce and grandparents' visitation rights of grandchildren

While many people in New Mexico understand that the divorce process is extremely challenging for the spouses involved, the process has the tendency to affect other parties as well. This is especially true when children are involved. Extended family members such as grandparents not only offer help and support for their adult children, but may also seek to be there for their grandchildren as well. Although they mean well, this could create some tension and some disputes, which could lead to some invoking their grandparents' rights.

Grandparents often have several difficult decisions presented to them during the dissolution of their child's marriage. While it seems logical that they would automatically be on the side of their own child, this is not always the case. If the relationship between the grandparent and one or both of the child's parents becomes strained, this could lead the child's parents to pull their child away from the grandparents.

Losing visitation to a grandchild could be a consequence of the divorce process, and while a grandparent may not want to interfere with the divorce process, grandparents may be afforded the right to visitation with their grandchildren. Before taking legal action to gain rights to visitation with grandchildren, a grandparent could take additional steps with the child's parents to regain this right out-of-court.

Having an open dialogue with them could be useful. It is important to be fair when offering support and advice, or it might be best to simply be there to listen. Grandparents could also serve as a safe haven for grandchildren. It is not good for children to be around the negativity and disputes that often occur in a dissolution, so taking them out of the situation might be in their best interest.

If these steps do not work to regain visitation rights and maintain the relationship with their grandchildren, it may be possible to seek a judgment that could order specific visitation times. This often occurs when the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is important and beneficial and would cause harm to the child if not re-established.

The divorce process often brings numerous disputes and pitfalls. While it is primarily the spouses that take the brunt in these situations, grandparents often endure negative effects. In these situations, it is important that they understand their rights regarding visitation with their grandchildren so the best interests of the child can be met.

Source: Examiner, "Grandparents, grandchildren, and divorce," Ica Iova, Nov. 17, 2014

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