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A discussion of the history of grandparents' rights in the U.S.


Throughout most of the history of the United States, rights of a grandparent to visit with a grandchild did not exist. Over the last few decades, however, progress has been made, although it still varies by state.


There are two types of laws in place: restrictive visitation statutes and permissive visitation statutes. Although restrictive visitation statutes only allow a grandparent to seek visitation rights in the event that parents have divorced or if one or both parents has died, permissive visitation laws have more flexibility and options for grandparents seeking visitation rights.

In 2000, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling in the landmark case Troxel v. Granville in the state of Washington. Initially, the state granted a grandparent's right to see their grandchild, overriding the mother's right to protect the "care, custody, and control" of her children. The court also ruled, however, that judges should be able to grant visitation rights if they believe they serve "the best interests of the children." The "Troxel Effect", as it is now known, gives many states permissive statutes, which allows grandparents to seek visitation rights for their grandchildren.

If you are seeking grandparent's visitation rights with your grandchild or grandchildren and are not having success working with their parents, you may want to get more information about family law issues. Obtaining visitation rights is not necessarily guaranteed. But, maintaining a happy and health relationship with your family members is too important to take for granted. Fighting for your rights may make a difference in obtaining the rights you deserve.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Grandparent Visitation Rights," Accessed Aug. 21, 2017

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