By: Stacey Golmon
A common misconception in family law concerns the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren. In most cases, parents are exceedingly pleased to have the physical, emotional and financial help of grandparents with their children. However, when divorce occurs and feelings are hurt on both sides, sometimes a parent may no longer allow one set of grandparents to participate and spend time with the grandchildren.
Do grandparents have visitation rights in these circumstances? The Mississippi courts have said that depends. In the case of Aydelott v. Quartaro, 124 So.3d 97 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013), the Court says there is “no inherent right to grandparent visitation.” However, visitation can be granted if there is proof of a narrow, statutory criteria designed to help protect the rights of the parents to make decisions about their children’s lives. That criteria is that the grandparents must show they have established a “viable relationship” with the children by either financially supporting the children or through regular physical visits with the children. The court said it was not enough that the grandparents had a “desire” to have a viable relationship with the child but the relationship must be established prior to their filing a complaint.
So, grandparents who regularly see their grandchildren, have the children spend the night with them frequently, and regularly buy them things are in much better shape that the grandparents who have only seen the children occasionally. Again, hopefully the emotions of a divorce will fade and parents will seek out grandparents for help in raising their children, but if not, there is the possibility, if the grandparents were very involved prior to the divorce, for them to seek help from the courts and have some visitation granted.