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Unfolding grandparent visitation rights during a divorce

Divorce has the tendency to impact more than just the couple ending their marriage. Obviously, if children are involved, they will be greatly affected by the changes dissolution will cause in their life. But what about the parents of the divorcing couple? Often times, grandparents end up in the crossfires or neglected in the process. This frequently leads to grandparents questioning what rights they have in the process and what steps are available to them to help them protect their relationship with their grandchildren.

Grandparents in New Mexico and elsewhere often seek to invoke their grandparent visitation rights. These rights, which were non-existent only 40 years ago, grant visitation to grandparents and certain other nonparents, providing them a legal right to visit their grandchild.

Each state has its own statutory guidelines for granting visitation to grandparents, however, the intent of these statutes is to grant grandparents visitation when it is in the best interests of the grandchild, allowing for grandparents to maintain their contact with their grandchildren. These matters also explore whether the parents are fit to raise the children and whether it is important to maintain the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

There are two types of visitation laws that could be applied, which include permissive visitation and restrictive visitation. Restrictive visitation laws are applied when parents are divorced or if one or both parents are deceased, allowing for grandparents to invoke their visitation rights. On the other hand, permissive visitation laws allow for more leeway when granting visitation and can apply even when both parents are alive or still married.

When grandparent visitation rights are at issue, it is often best to see if an arrangement or schedule can be worked out with the parents. If such a method does not work, mediation is often an effective way to settle this dispute. Whether grandparents request visitation through mediation or litigation, it is always important to consider the best interests of the grandchildren involved.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "Grandparent Visitation Rights," accessed March 21, 2016

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