In Family Law

A recent Pew Research Center study found that one in ten children in the United States is currently being raised by a grandparent. This translates to approximately 7.7 million children as of 2011. The findings were supported by a separate study conducted with funding through Brown University and the Russell Sage Foundation.

The study’s findings bring to light not only a new trend, but a revised look at an old legal issue: what exactly are grandparent’s rights when it comes to their grandchildren, particularly if the parents are divorced?

Grandparent rights in Connecticut

Grandparents enjoy a special relationship with grandchildren. Unfortunately, this relationship can be complicated when the parents of the grandchildren divorce. In some states, grandparents have rights that help protect this relationship. Ideally, parents will foster this relationship. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

Grandparent rights are very different in nature than parental rights. Parental rights are a constitutional guarantee, while grandparent rights are generally acts passed through state legislatures. As a result, the rights granted to grandparents will vary from state to state.

Connecticut does provide grandparents the ability to seek visitation rights through the court system. In order to receive visitation, a grandparent in Connecticut must file a petition that includes an explanation of how the grandparent and child have a parent-like relationship and detail how the denial of visitation would negatively impact the child. The court will consider a variety of factors in making its determination, including:

  • Time. How much time has the child spent with the grandparent? Is there a history of regular contact between the grandparent and the child?
  • Activities. What kind of things do the child and grandparent do together? Are the activities similar to those that would exist between a parent and a child?
  • Fitness. Is the grandparent a good influence on the child?

Although courts in Connecticut do provide a certain level of deference to parents when deciding whether or not a grandparent is allowed in a child’s life, hope is not lost for a grandparent who wishes to build a bond with his or her grandchild over parental objection. In order to establish visitation rights, the grandparent must prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Meeting this standard can be difficult. As a result, those who find themselves dealing with visitation issues should contact an experienced Connecticut divorce lawyer. This legal professional will help to better ensure that your legal rights are protected.

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