Losing a child is difficult, but it can be made even more difficult if you also lose access to your grandchildren. Unfortunately, problems between you and your child's spouse can escalate after a death. If it reaches the point where your son- or daughter-in-law isn't allowing you to see the grandchildren, you need to understand that you still have options. The following tips can help you regain your visitation rights.
Tip #1: Know Your Legal Rights
Legal visitation rights for grandparents vary by state. Generally, visitation rights are not automatically granted, but there are means for grandparents to seek a court order that allows for visitation. A family law attorney can help you learn what the laws and rights are in your state.
Tip #2: Seek Mediation
Beginning with a legal tussle may lead to even more hard feelings. In other words, you may get your visitation rights but your child's spouse will be even angrier and may find other ways to make you miserable. Consult with your lawyer about their mediation team, and then approach your in-law about trying out mediation. Sometimes a skilled mediator can help both parties come to a visitation agreement that you wouldn't have been able to orchestrate on your own. This is especially true when emotions are running high after a death in the family – a third party that isn't emotionally invested in the situation may be able to find a solution.
Tip #3: Prepare Wisely
Preparation is key if you must go to court to try and secure visitation rights. In most cases, the first rights to the child's well being belong to the parent. As the grandparent, you must show that you are a positive and useful influence in your grandchild's life. A record of past activities you participated in with your grandchild or your child's family when they were still alive, including photographs, can be helpful in establishing your former role. Also, be prepared to have your personal life examined by the court, especially if your child's spouse is accusing you of any untoward conduct, such as alcohol or drug abuse. Finally, abstain from mentioning your difficulties online or with acquaintances. Getting caught "bad-mouthing" your grandchild's parent will not win you any favor in court.
Contact a local family law attorney, a lawyer such as Mills & Mills Law Group, to get started or if you have any further questions.