How Mediation Can Help You with Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparent’s Day, the first Sunday of September following Labor Day, honors the vital role these men and women play in the lives of our children. Research has shown that closeness between grandparents and grandchildren can improve mental health and emotional well-being for both. What’s more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020 approximately 3 million children were being raised by a grandparent. Yet, it may surprise you to learn that there’s no federal law protecting grandparents’ rights. So, what can a grandparent do when circumstances such as a divorce or a family dispute have limited or eliminated contact with their grandchildren? Mediation can help. Here’s how.

The Facts on Grandparents’ Rights 

With no federal law in place, grandparents’ rights are based on state law and each has different statutes on the matter. In general, the courts look at the best interests of the child when it comes to whether a grandparent has the right to visitation or custody. Factors that determine the best interests of the child may include:

  • The needs of the child, including physical and emotional health, the safety of the child, and the welfare of the child
  • The ability of the parents and/or grandparents to meet those needs
  • Wishes of the parent(s) and the grandparent
  • Wishes of the child, if they are old enough and capable of making those decisions
  • The strength of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • The length of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • Evidence of abuse or neglect by the parent(s) or grandparent
  • Evidence of substance abuse by the parent(s) or grandparent
  • How well the child adjusts to the home, school, or community
  • The ability of the parent(s) or grandparent to provide love and care for the child
  • Distance between the child and the parent(s) or grandparent

However, grandparents’ rights are only considered when certain conditions (as determined by your state) are met, and of course, the conditions required for custody differ from those for visitation.

Grandparents’ Rights

Mediation of Grandparents’ Rights

If it seems that family laws tend to favor parents over grandparents, you’d be correct. While you certainly can petition the court to gain visitation rights and/or custody of grandchildren, it’s can be a lengthy and expensive process. Not to mention adversarial in that you’d be pitting yourself against your own children which may further damage the relationship. That’s not to say it isn’t possible or warranted in some cases. 

However, mediation is an alternative that should be considered before getting to the point of court litigation. Mediation is typically voluntary, although it can be court-ordered. During the process, all parties get together with a neutral third party, ideally, a mediator experienced in family law and/or family counseling, to work towards a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediators are skilled in communication and negotiation techniques that can help you get to the heart of the issue. Often, it’s hurt feelings, misperceptions, or a lack of communication responsible for the parent limiting and/or eliminating contact with the grandchild.

Mediation can help bring those issues to light in a less confrontational way as it’s more private and levels the playing field in a way that court litigation of grandparents’ rights can’t. Did we mention the process is also typically easier, quicker, and less expensive, too? What’s more, our mediation services are 100 percent virtual for added flexibility and convenience.

For additional information on how our online mediation services can help with grandparents’ rights, contact our experienced team today to learn more.

%d bloggers like this: