Typically grandparents’ involvement with their grandchildren is through their “adult child” who is the parent. Often in a divorce, grandparents are left by the wayside. The focus should be what is in the best interest of the child or children. Grandparents believe that it is the grandchild’s best interest to have regular and well-exercised grandparental visitation. Parents do not always appreciate grandparental involvement when issues become contentious in a divorce. Grandparents should try to remain neutral during the divorce, however, that frankly is usually not possible. Work closely with your son or daughter and try to establish some meaningful grandparental time with your grandchildren during your son or daughter’s time.
Grandparents have no legal financial duty to support grandchildren, but money earmarked for a grandchild can really be helpful. Whether it is regularly paying for diapers, formula, or daycare, or contributing to private school tuition, grandparents can help maintain a grandchild’s quality of life during and after their parents’ divorce. Paying for that special summer camp or making sure a child’s braces stay a reality can be an enormous benefit to the grandchild and for the parents. If both parents do not want grandparental involvement with their children, the courts are reluctant to order otherwise.
Person with a Legitimate Interest
In Virginia, grandparents, step-grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives and family members according to code section 20.124.1 can petition for and be awarded custody or visitation by the Court, if it is the child(ren)’s best interest. Generally the court prefers the parents to have custody, but will include other interested persons with clear and convincing evidence.
However, a person cannot be considered by the court to be a person with a legitimate interest if their connection to the child is through a parent who has lost, voluntarily or involuntarily, parental rights.