Child custody, visitation: When parents and grandparents conflict

Child custody and visitation matters can be among the thorniest and most complex considerations involved in a divorce proceeding and thereafter.

Those concerns can be even more acute when grandparents are parties to a dispute.

Courts across the country — including in Georgia — are often involved, and to an increasing degree, in legal confrontations between parents with custody and grandparents seeking visitation rights and greater participation in the lives of their grandchildren.

Over the years, courts have grappled with fact patterns and issues that run the gamut of human possibility and emotions when parents and grandparents seek legal resource on matters concerning young children.

Sometimes judicial intervention that accords grandparents greater rights seems clear and warranted, such as when a parent has drug- or alcohol-dependency issues, or displays violent behavior. At other times, parents are seeking in good faith to shield their children from grandparents who they believe might sexually or emotionally abuse them.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving non-parent third-party visitation rights that the wishes of competent parents must be the guiding principle in fashioning legal outcomes in family law disputes.

That standard is now firmly operative in all states, but local laws and rulings have resulted in interpretations that can differ across state lines.

The court process can be daunting and, as many note, wrenching in cases where emotions run high.

A proven family law attorney can respond to questions and concerns regarding custody and visitation matters and ensure that an involved child’s best interests are fully safeguarded.

Source: USA Today, “States’ grandparent visitation laws raise concern” Nov. 8, 2011

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