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Melissa A. Featherston

Missouri grandparents' rights: Couple kept kids away

Grandparents' rights came into play in the case from another state of a couple accused of depriving the paternal grandparents of the right to see their grandchildren. The couple allegedly took the three children to Mexico in 2007 and neglected to tell the grandparents. They have since been charged with the crime of child custody deprivation. The case highlights grandparents' rights, and although it has a positive ending for them, many times such delicate issues could end with hurt feelings and family rifts. Grandparents in Missouri going through a similar situation should know that they likely have legal rights available to them and may assess their right to seek visitation of their grandchildren through the family courts.

After the couple fled to Mexico in 2007, the family was not located by authorities until 2011. The parents were brought up on custody deprivation charges in Texas after the grandparents claimed they were deprived of visitation rights. The mother publicly accused the children's father of abusing them, but temporary guardianship of the children has been awarded to the grandparents.

In custody matters like this, mediation can sometimes be effective in resolving differences that can result in someone being deprived of their visitation rights. Grandparents are often an important and influential aspect of a child's life, and they may legally have the rights to seek visitation through the courts. Although state laws vary, many states realize the importance of such relationships and that some form of grandparent visitation may be in the best interests of the children involved.

Grandparents' rights in Missouri can be a delicate matter and often an emotional one. Those grandparents who believe they are in danger of losing access to their grandchildren through divorce or separation may benefit by gaining an understanding of Missouri law and procedures concerning these issues. Each circumstance is different, and the best approach may be to review all of the relevant facts and circumstances with a professional experienced in family law issues.

Source: Claremont-La Verne Patch, "Congressman's Former Daughter-in-law Pleads No Contest to Child Deprivation," Nov. 8, 2012

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