Sept. 13 is National Grandparents Day, and this month we’re celebrating the wonderful relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, we know how important it is for children to have healthy relationships with their grandparents, even after their parents go through a divorce.
My paternal grandmother, who we called Nani, poured a lot of confidence in me. It was a different kind of love than I got from my parents. Nani saw me as her legacy. She made me feel very special, but she also made me feel like I had a big responsibility to carry myself in a way that reflected well on the rest of the family. Some people may see that as putting too much responsibility on a child, but it actually built a lot of self-confidence in me.
Nani motivated me to imagine what I wanted to be when I grew up. I realized that the significance of your life goes beyond yourself. You are part of a legacy built by your parents and your grandparents. I know very well how important that relationship with your grandparents can be when you’re a child. Nani did so much for me and I cannot imagine my childhood without her. In Georgia, grandparents have certain rights that can help them maintain their relationship with their grandchildren after a divorce.
When parents go through a divorce, they will ideally be able to work out a visitation plan that will allow the grandparents to see their grandchildren on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for one parent to refuse any sort of contact between the grandparents and the child after a divorce. If this happens, grandparents can see that visitation rights be granted by the court. In Georgia, the court will consider a few factors to determine if visitation should be granted. These factors include:
Did the child reside with the grandparent for at least six months?
Did the grandparent provide financial support for the child’s basic needs for at least one year?
Is there an established pattern of regular visitation?
Are there any circumstances that suggest emotional or physical harm could occur if visitation is not granted?
There are also circumstances in which grandparents could gain guardianship or legal custody of their grandchildren. This only happens if the parents are deemed unfit and if the court determines that granting the grandparents custody would be in the child’s best interests. Health and age of the grandparents, as well as their ability to meet the needs and wishes of the child, are considered when making such a decision.
In our experience, while divorce can be a painful process, most parents will act with the best interests of their children at heart. It’s important for grandparents to respect the difficult time their adult child may be going through and respectfully communicate their concerns about visitation with both parents. More often than not, agreements can be made and your grandchildren will be happy to see you as often as they can.
That said, it is possible that grandparents may find themselves dealing with combative or unreasonable demands due to a family divorce. When this happens, it is good to know that Georgia has laws to help protect that important relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.
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