General Question

jamielynn2328's avatar

Should Grandparents have visitation rights to their grandchildren?

Asked by jamielynn2328 (4737points) July 10th, 2009

My sister is involved in a court battle right now with her 4 year old daughter’s biological grandmother. My niece’s bio dad is in jail for sexual acts with a minor, and she has never met him. She also does not know her bio grandma. My sister is married to a wonderful man who loves my niece as if she is his own. In the state of NY, grandparents have the legal right to sue for visitation, and so she has decided to go for it. Just because it is legal, is it okay? It is disrupting her life, and the woman has a past history of depression and suicide. My sister does not trust this woman, and the way the trial is going, it seems she may actually have a chance of winning…

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I have never understood or accepted this. I do not think it is right.

The generation that is now pursuing it would never have tolerated their own parents doing it to them.

That said, unless there is clear evidence they are toxic, it is probably best for the child to have a relationship with that family. Also best to keep it out of the courts so that the mother sets the terms rather than a judge.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think it’s fair to protect children from damaging influences.
If grandma is unstable and suicidal, that may not be a good influence on the child.

If the depressed and suicidal mother of the biological parent who has been convicted of pedophilia wanted to visit my child, I wouldn’t allow it.

YARNLADY's avatar

The rights of the child are the most important rights to consider. For the most part, contact with family members is in the best interest of the child. However, if there is any reason to prevent this contact, due to the family member being unfit, that should be brought out in court.

If the main issue is feuding between the parties, they should be required to attend parenting or anger management classes, rather than depriving the child of a grandparent.

My sister works in family court, and nearly every case they handle involves adults trying to punish each other by using the child as a pawn, rather than any proof of an unfit parent or grandparent. In her jurisdiction, the court automatically appoints an advocate for the child, and that insures the child’s best interest is the deciding factor.

jca's avatar

where i work the advocate for the child is called a law guardian, and it’s an actual lawyer for the child. the law guardian has to interview the child to find out their feelings and understanding. they are objective – not on the side of either party, just totally advocating for the child legally.

in this case, the visits can be supervised and that should be written in the court order – supervised by specific adults. that way there’s no worry about anything going on that should not during the visits, or anything negative being said.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No they should not. But Grandchildren should have visitation rights to their Grandparents.

MacBean's avatar

The generation that is now pursuing it would never have tolerated their own parents doing it to them.

The generation that is now pursuing it would never have prevented their own parents from seeing their grandchildren.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@jamielynn2328 @MacBean

It’s not a generational thing. It’s an individual thing.

The Grandmother in question has had a hand in helping to raise an incarcerated pedophile. Whatever methodology she used to raise her son cannot simply be turned off.

The Grandparent is desperately attempting another chance at raising the grandchild, making up for the problems with her own children. This serves two purposes. One, to absolve her of wrongdoing with her own children, and two, hoping the Grandchild does not grow up and think her side of the family is crazy. None of which is truly motivated for the best interest of the child. The Grandmother is just trying to rid herself of past guilt.

Solution is to offer the courts a settlement of regular monthly visitation at your home.

Better solution is to move to another state that does not recognize Grandparent visitation.

I had a similar situation with different specifics. Adults have a way of unwittingly playing mind games with a child. All adults, even the so called good parents.

Silver lining is that after 13 years of hell, everything has worked itself out for the best of everyone involved. People can change, but it takes a long time to get past anger, sadness and fear… a very long time.

Jack79's avatar

Grandparents in general do (and should) have visitation rights, even when their son/daughter is not a particularly good parent. And they usually have something to offer the child themselves. Now if the particular woman “has a past history of depression and suicide” (sounds like the average mother to me, but anyway), and if in general your sister does not trust this woman, that’s an exception. Though I think your sister should maybe loosen up a bit. I’m sure her husband’s mother also acts as a grandmother to your niece. Having 3 grandmothers is even better than 2. And they don’t even have to be good ones. Besides, it’s not as if the grandmother gets to keep the child for a week or so. It’s a few hours a month at most. Nothing like a parent’s visitation rights.

MacBean's avatar

I’m a little bit biased on this topic right now. My parents are considering taking legal action to ensure visitation rights with their grandkids at the moment, because my sister’s manipulative, abusive asshole of a husband is doing everything he possibly can to keep them from seeing them.

augustlan's avatar

I think if there is a prior relationship between the grandparents and children – and then there is a divorce – it would be in the best interests of those children to maintain that relationship.

In your sister’s situation, that does not appear to be the case. The child doesn’t have any prior relationship with the grandparent. Forcing one on her now would not seem to be in the child’s best interests.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


That sucks.

The Art of War teaches us many ways to overcome an enemy without ever actually doing battle. The Grandparents maturity, patience and experience could be a much bigger weapon than any lawyer.

Cooler heads will prevail.

jamielynn2328's avatar

@MacBean I totally understand and support grandparent’s rights who have been an active and positive influence in a child’s life. I think that is what the law in NY state is there for.
@Jack79 I am a mom and I’ve never attempted suicide, i don’t think that sounds like most moms. My sister’s husband has a mother who is a chronic drunk, so she is not in my niece’s life. And I would have to disagree on the point that it doesn’t matter if the grandmother is a good one. I don’t want negative influences in my children’s life. I don’t blame her.

We also worry that at this point, her motive may be to facilitate a relationship between my niece and the bio dad who is in jail. She has sent my sister letters from him, asking that they be read to my niece. This seems inappropriate to read jail letters to a four year old from a “daddy” she does not know, and who is serving time for pedophilia behavior.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No. My reasoning is extremely simple: It is up to the immediate, stable guardian of the child (in other words, the parent) to choose who their child does and does not see. Grandparents may be related, but they have no inherent right to be granted access to a child that is not their child. Period.

In this specific case my answer is still no, for many, many reasons.

Darwin's avatar

Grandparents do have the expectation of seeing their grandchildren. However, that doesn’t mean they should see them alone, without their parent or parents present. In addition, while the biological dad is obviously not a nice person, you can’t keep him a secret forever. It would be much better to have contact with these people but on your terms so you can control how they behave towards your daughter and how she interprets her relationship with them.

By the time it ends up in court you have lost control of the situation and will have to accept whatever the court decides. It is much better to keep control of the situation yourself, even if it means some limited contact.

marinelife's avatar

@MacBean I am sorry that you are going through that. Each situation is different. I still don’t think a blanket grant of legal rights to grandparents is the answer.

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