When most people think of custody and visitation rights, only parental rights come to mind. What about the grandparents? When parents split up, former in-laws may wish to spend time with their grandchildren. The opioid crisis has also added an extra need for some grandparents to become full-time or part-time parents to children of recovering addicts.
Unfortunately, in Maryland, grandparents face a difficult struggle when asking for these rights. While it is not impossible to accomplish, there are not adequate laws in place to make the process as easy as it could be.
Rhode Island paves the way
In 2017, WJAR reported that a new law had given Rhode Island grandparents the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren, even without formal visitation rights. The law addresses instances where after a divorce, parents of the non-custodial parent may only get to see grandchildren when that parent gets parenting time. The grandparents may feel reluctant to cut into that time and end up not seeing the children very often at all.
There are other situations where the law might prove applicable and courts intended to review these on a case-by-case basis. Other situations involved instances where grandparents became estranged from grandchildren or need to find them.
The American Bar Association’s take
The American Bar Association has its own opinions when it comes to grandparents’ visitation rights. It largely believes that grandparent visitation is a good idea, but with some guidelines in place. Here are a few of them:
- Courts should consider the relationship the children have with the grandparent(s).
- Courts should consider if the added visitation rights might lead to conflict between the parents.
- Courts should take into consideration the child’s wishes if they are old enough to independently decide and express their preference.
The application of grandparent visitation rights is not suitable for all situations. This is especially true when children do not know the grandparents and may not wish to form a relationship with them. However, whenever feasible and preferred, children may benefit from remaining in close contact with grandparents.