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The issue of grandparent rights has once again become water cooler chatter  because the  maternal grandmother of Sean Goldman has petitioned a New Jersey Court to visit with her grandson. Undeniably many grandparents often play a significant role in the lives of  their grandchildren but do they have a legal right to have a relationship with their grandchildren? What happens if the parents divorce, die or  just out right deny the grandparent the right to see the child? Do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren? The  simple answer, yes. While the requirements to be granted visitation with grandchildren varies from state to state, every state has laws which allow courts to grant grandparents' visitation with their grandchildren.  

The threshold issue that courts must address is whether or not the vitiation and continued relationship serves the best interest of child. The  best interest of the child is without exception the pivotal factor in determining the appropriateness of granting grandparents visitation.  Among the factors which may be taken into consideration in determining  the best interest of the child  are: 1) the existing relationship between the grandparent and child 2)  past relationship between the grandparent and child,3) the effect of a continued or reestablished relationship on the wellbeing of the child 4) the safety of the child 5) the impact of visitation will have on the parent- child relationship.    

Generally, a requirement exist hat the parents must be; deceased, divorced, legally separated or never been married. In Alabama, Missouri and Nevada the court may grant visitation to grandparents who have been unreasonably been denied seeing their grandchildren.  

In all stated except Connecticut and New York adoption of the child by someone other than a relative or stepparent will terminate the grandparents right to visitation. In Connecticut and New York   adoption does not necessarily terminate the grandparent right to vitiation.  

As with all legal issues, if you are faced with such a situation, the first action step is to understand your rights. Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in your state.

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