Grandparents – What Rights Do They Have To Their Grandchild(ren) In A Divorce?
When a couple with children goes through a divorce, it is not just the husband and wife who are emotionally affected, particularly if the divorce proceedings are not amicable. Very often it is the children who suffer from the animosity – being pulled both ways by both parents.
Another area which is often overlooked is the children’s relationship with families on both sides, especially with their grandparents. If custody had been awarded to one parent, then the grandparents on the other side are very much obliged to the courts to award them visitation rights to their grandchild(ren). This could become problematic, as the parent in question may not be entirely happy with that situation.
- Contributing to child’s emotional wellbeing
The courts are often reluctant to grant such rights in these instances due to fears of placing the children in emotionally disturbing conditions. The grandparents thus need to convince the courts that there is a significant emotional bond between them and the child(ren) involved, and that such visits contribute towards the child(ren)’s happiness, welfare and emotional wellbeing.
- Maintaining bond after death of parent
Grandparents may also file for visitation rights in situations where the children’s parent or parents have passed away and they wish to maintain that familial bond.
- Child born out of wedlock
There have also been cases where a child was born out of wedlock but the grandparents wish to establish a relationship with the child. In these instances, the courts will demand that paternity be verified before considering awarding visitation rights.
- Child legally adopted by non family members
If a child has been adopted by persons who are not blood related, then the grandparents lose all rights when it comes to the child.
When a couple initiates divorce proceedings, the courts are empowered by the Women’s Charter to have jurisdiction over the child(ren)’s welfare. Grandparents of child(ren) involved in divorce cases can therefore sue for custody and the courts can award custody to the grandparents if it is deemed to be in the child(ren)’s best interests to be cared for by persons other than the parents of a broken down household.
Read more on child custody here
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