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How Grandparents Can Navigate Custody Battles

If you are a grandparent and your child is going through a divorce or custody battle, asking to spend time with your grandchildren can be a difficult conversation to have. On the one hand, you may feel as if you are taking sides (and want to avoid doing so); but on the other hand, you don't want to forfeit your relationship with your grandchild.

With this conundrum, what is a grandparent to do?

There are several options available to grandparents. (All of which should not be construed as legal advice).

First, grandparents may try engaging the custodial parent directly. This could be an option where the relationship between grandparents and the custodial parent is amicable, and it is particularly helpful when planning a family gathering to invite the parent. Another option can be to have a third party (perhaps a mutual family friend) act as a go-between to negotiate time to be spent. This may be a good option if a truce needs to be brokered as well.

If the relationship is no longer functional, perhaps legal intervention is necessary. This would include a motion for parenting time, in the same way a non-custodial parent would seek the same. There are a number of conditions that a grandparent must satisfy in order to get parenting time rights. Essentially, it must be in the best interest of the child for him or her to spend time with a grandparent. To answer this question, courts review a number of factors, including the previous relationship between the parties, how much time has passed between previous visits, and whether there is anything that creates an unstable environment for the child.

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