Grandparents’ Rights After Divorce

After divorce, what are grandparents’ rights? Legally, grandparents’ generally have no visitation rights in the state of Washington unless a court order is obtained, but maintaining relationships with your children’s grandparents and your former in-laws is important as you try to get through a tough time. Just because you and your spouse want to sever ties does not mean that that the grandparents want to lose connections with their grandchildren, or even with you.

Maintaining Relationships is Usually in Everyone’s Best Interest

Even if you were close during the marriage, you and your in-laws may need to find a new way to have a relationship. It is probably not wise to discuss the shortcomings of your mate with them. However, their love for their grandchildren is real. As you redefine your own relationship with them, you can use them as allies in helping your children adjust to the new realities of their lives.

A visit to the grandparents can be a wonderful situation where the children are the center of attention and the subject of a little spoiling. Assuming that the grandparents do not use the visit to tryto pit the child against the other parent, spending time with the grandparents can be a safe haven for kids. Time away from the children may also offer you a respite that you need. If you feel as if you will be doing the majority of the parenting, the grandparents can be a help to you in reinforcing values you want your children to have.

Remember, Grandparents Do Not Divorce Your Children

In divorce, it is important for parents to realize that while divorce happens between two adults, it has repercussions with children and other people previously involved in the family life. Parents must work hard to shield children from being pulled into a vortex of anger, ill will, and bad feelings, and must do their best to keep important relationships alive with grandparents and others in the extended family.

During some divorces, maintaining a relationship with grandparents can be a problem, and many exes struggle to make it work. Especially in cases where you do not care for your in-laws or trust them with your children, you may try to keep the kids away from them. Unless visitation or custody rights have been obtained by court order, it is generally up to each parent to determine the amount of time spent with a grandparent while in their care.

Understanding Grandparents’ Rights

Washington State, does not recognize the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren unless a grandparent has obtained visitation rights under a parenting plan order as provided by RCW 26.09.240, or nonparental custody rights obtained independent of a divorce action,

In a divorce, legal separation or modification action, a grandparent may petition the court for visitation time. The grandparent(s) must prove that they had a significant relationship with the children prior to the divorce so the visits will be in the best interest of the child. Nonparental custody rights allow a grandparent to have custody of a child, but are limited to cases where a parent is deemed unfit or otherwise fit but custody with the parent would be detrimental to child’s best interests (for example, the parent is cohabitating with an abusive person).

When grandparents engage a lawyer to obtain visitation or custody rights, this may put you in a position of needing to have your own representation. The process can be emotional and costly for everyone involved, so, if possible, it is in everyone’s best interests to try to resolve disputes amicably outside of court.

If you have questions about grandparents’ rights, contact Weintraub Law Office for a consult.