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since June 19, 2001


Grandparents' Access to Children of Divorce and Separation

Saving Private Ryan's Family, by Dean Hughson

This weekend Saving Private Ryan opened at most box offices.  The movie is a blockbuster and it opens with a real ugly, bloody battle in the beginning.

It got me to thinking that Private Ryan, if he was a real person, would be witnessing another battle right now.  Probably he would be fighting, after a bloody court battle, to gain access to his grandchildren.....a very common thing in these divorce days.  He saw a deadly battle once but this one is equally as frustrating and unneeded.

Grandparents rights should be a given in my opinion.  However in many states grandparents have no standing.  After a divorce a vindictive ex-spouse can withhold access to the children.  What has amazed me is that some feminists I have met on the internet and even some men agree with this stance. They feel that the custodial parent should have the final say on who has access to the kids, even to the exclusion of family members.  What can be in the best interests of the children not to see a grandparent?

Well, I can understand if the grandparent is crazed or a dangerous felon but that has to be a small group; just like parents who shouldn't have access to the kids.  Take a look at some research whose parents don't get to see the children after a divorce (http://ssc.wisc.edu/cde/nsfhwp/nsfh74ab.htm)

[http://ssc.wisc.edu/cde/nsfhwp/ contains a list of downloadable PDF documents.   http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/cde/nsfhwp/nsfh74.pdf contains the full text of which Dean provided the URL for the abstract --WHS]

and you will see that it is often the fathers.

I think that human rights groups, fathers rights groups, mothers rights groups, men's groups, women's groups should be fighting the battle to get laws in all of our states guaranteeing grandparents access to the kids.  Kids need grandparents and if we truly are concerned about the best interests of kids we should work to be sure that they are protected from whichever parent is trying to revise history and wipe out the other parents family history.

A model state is Alabama. Take a look at their grandparents visitation law at web site  http://www.divorceinfo.com/algrandparents.htm. Check and see if your state has such a law.  If not take a copy of this law and visit a friendly state senator or representative and lobby to get a law in place.  Be sure you give support during the process because I guarantee you NOW  (http://www.now.org/) and ACES (http://www.childsupport-aces.org/index.html) will be there in opposition to the bill.   Some groups such as ACFC (http://www.acfc.org/missn.htm) have already set out grandparents rights as a mission.

How do you help your grandchild during a divorce?  Dr. Eleanor Hamilton has some advice at  http://www.grandtimes.com/divorce.html Margery Fridstein at http://www.seniornews.com/snn-global-edition/article498.html  has spoken well to the problem also. Cool, calm support to the grandkids is a very helpful thing.

For those of us who want to help families and perhaps our next generation, who face divorce and the laws that are in place, we need to get involved politically and help change the present system.  You can make a difference.


See also:

Grandparent Access To Their Grandchildren: A contemporary issue — A study report by Judy Atkinson

1999 06 05
2000 06 18 (added link to Judy Atkinson's study report)
2001 02 02 (format changes)