Being a grandparent often involves many of the same joys that one experienced as a parent. From gift-giving to attending special events, you can provide your grandchild with material, emotional and social support.
You likely have a deep love for your grandchildren, as well as a desire to see them thrive. Grandparents often invest a significant amount of their personal time and money into the health, well-being and development of their grandchildren. Unfortunately, disruptions in the family can have a negative impact on relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren.
Whether you have a falling out with your child or there are custody issues following a divorce, it is wise to educate yourself about your rights as a grandparent in Virginia. The courts may be willing to intervene on your behalf in certain circumstances if you otherwise won't be able to maintain the relationship you had with your grandkids due to interpersonal or custody issues.
Broad family support networks benefit children
Rearing healthy children requires a lot of effort. The average child needs stability, discipline, education and affection. Developing healthy attachments to parents, grandparents and other caregivers is an important part of the developmental process. To that end, the family law courts typically want to uphold children's existing relationships after a divorce.
If you played a significant role in your grandchild's life, whether they lived with you or simply saw you frequently, that existing relationship may provide grounds for seeking visitation or even custody of your grandchild. The law in Virginia provides the right of visitation to adults with a legitimate interest, which typically means a healthy and positive relationship with the child.
In most cases, the courts will only award a grandparent custody in a situation that involves the termination of parental rights. If your child or your grandchildren's other parent is unable to provide for them, the courts may assign custody of the grandchildren to you. If your child or your grandchildren's other parent retains custody, the courts may still order visitation with you. Visitation, whether physical or digital, can help you maintain a healthy and positive relationship with your grandchildren.
Courts expect documentation of the relationship
One of the more difficult challenges that come with seeking visitation with your grandchildren may be proving that you have an existing relationship with them. One way to avert this issue is to take frequent photos of you with the kids, as is common for doting adults to take photographs of their grandchildren without themselves in the pictures. Photographs and phone records can demonstrate to the courts that your existing relationship with the kids has a positive impact on them.
In that situation, the courts will rule in what they think is the best interests of the children. Generally speaking, the best interests of children include maintaining bonds with the adults and family members in their lives.