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Melissa A. Featherston

Grandparents' child visitation rights in the spotlight

Child custody issues in the midst of, or after, a divorce can be thorny. When parents cannot agree on the terms of their separation, the children can be caught in the middle. But they are not the only ones affected by the parents' actions. Increasingly, grandparents are injecting themselves into the conversation to make sure that their grandchildren are still accessible to them.

Standards among states vary widely when it comes to grandparents' rights. This causes problems when the parents or children live in one state and the grandparents live in another. Oftentimes, for reasons out of their control, grandparents find themselves in the middle of a dispute, trying to stay involved in their grandchildren's lives--sometimes without the help, or even against the wishes, of their own children. This could arise in a variety of situations: the death of one of the parents, a contentious divorce and remarriage, or the absence of a parent for some other reason.

This winter, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide if it will weigh in on the issue of grandparents' visitation rights. Attorneys involved in cases in several states have asked the high court to clarify the issue. Because the states have such different regulations among one another, the state where a given case is heard can have almost as big an impact on the ultimate decision as the facts of the case itself.

Grandparents in Missouri who want to make sure their visitation rights are respected often turn to qualified family law attorneys to help them navigate the complicated world of child custody law.

Source: The Columbia Missourian, "States' grandparent visitation laws raise concern," Stephanie Reitz, Nov. 5, 2011

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