Marital status determines grandparents’ access
The grandparent-grandchild relationship is supposed to be a complete and separate relationship, but there are too many external factors that interfere with that notion. For example, when parents feel threatened by fearing that their son loves Grandma more than them or that Grandma loves grandson more than them, that represents a threat to the relationship. Parental insecurity can set the wheels of future alienation in motion.
Sometimes it is a lack of communication that leads to a family dispute or the death of a parent. Circumstances always change and affect family dynamics, including the always fragile grandfather-grandson relationship.
Parents control the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, that’s the way it is. As long as the grandparents don’t rock the boat and stay within the boundaries designated by the parents, the relationship has a better chance of surviving, but remember there are no guarantees.
It seems reasonable to assume that more grandparents today find themselves alienated from their extended family. Most try to resolve issues without outside intervention, but after all else fails, litigation is likely the next step.
All fifty states have grandparent visitation laws, which are unique to them. There are some common denominators that many share, while others are far apart. Most states, for example, include as a criterion for filing a grandparent visitation petition that one of the parents is deceased. The other provision is when the parents are divorced or living apart. Another criterion that is gaining ground is the “step-parent adoption” factor. With so many families divided as a result of divorce or marriage, many households are now blended. Whether remarried or married for the first time, the stepparent often adopts the children, and when this happens, there are consequences to the relationship between the child and the biological grandparent. About half of the states have statutes that allow grandparents to appear in court to file a visitation petition after the adoption of a stepparent. If there has been a pre-existing bond, the adoption should not sever that relationship. However, in the remaining states, the grandparents lose their rights along with the parent whose rights were terminated. There are only a few states that allow grandparents the right to petition the court while the birth parents are together.
What is puzzling is that the marital status of the parents is the determining factor in granting visitation and drafting laws.
So why can a grandparent appear in court when the parents are divorced but not when they are married? Or when there has been a stepparent adoption, a grandparent can often file a petition. It is worth mentioning that actually the step-parent adoptive family is no different from the intact family because the step-parent is the new parent. None of this makes sense, the child and the grandparent still have a bond regardless of whether the parents are apart or together.
Something seems amiss when an established bond between a child and a loving grandparent takes a backseat to the marital status of the parents in determining whether the relationship is allowed to continue.