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Do you have rights as a grandparent to visitation time?

As social norms change, the laws that guide critical decisions change as well. Grandparents' rights were legally non-existent in most places just a few decades ago. With the increasing risk of the opioid epidemic and other familial issues giving rise to grandparents raising their grandchildren, more grandparents are eager to protect their relationship with their grandchildren through legal means.

Some states have taken steps to legally enshrine the rights of grandparents. Others analyze situations on a case-by-case basis, focusing on the situation instead of any statute. Grandparents in Georgia or South Carolina may want to establish legal rights to their grandchildren or protect an existing relationship. Learning a little more about how the courts handle these situations can help you make better decisions about your family.

The courts care more about what the kids need than your rights

In some ways, the term grandparents' rights is misleading, as it implies that the courts are primarily concerned about the desires or wishes of older adults. However, grandparents' rights really stem from the need for some grandparents to step up and fill a parental role in the life of a child. They also come from the fact that children need a broad support network in their early years.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Grandparents who have a role in that village in Georgia have the right to defend it. Protecting and maintaining the closest relationships a child has is one of the ways that the courts take steps in the best interest of the children. Children need emotional and social support to overcome the challenges of childhood and adolescence.

Typically, as a grandparent seeking custody or visitation, you need to demonstrate a pre-existing, positive relationship with your grandchildren. Pictures, digital communication or statements from the children can help your claim. Barring that, you may need to stand up at a time when your child can no longer provide for their children for some reason. In both cases, you will need to carefully develop a legal strategy and remain focused on the needs of your grandchildren, not your own wishes.

Consulting with an attorney is important in complex family law cases

Grandparents seeking formal visitation rights often do so because of a complicated family relationship. Whether your child lost custody during a divorce and your former son- or daughter-in-law won't allow visitation or your child is the one refusing to let you spend time with the kids, litigating grandparents' rights can often exacerbate existing issues. Talk with an attorney to help you make informed decisions or even negotiate a solution outside of court.

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