Grandparents' visitation rights and custody

A. M. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Grandparents have traditionally played a central role in the family kinship system. Today the altered patterns of marriage and parenting have had an impact on family structures, including intergenerational family relationships. Grandparent visitation statutes have been established in all 50 states to permit grandparents to seek court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Court-ordered visitation, over the objection of a custodial parent, is a controversial legal development that continues to be litigated. All states also have laws that authorize third-party custody, including grandparent custody, in certain circumstances. Grandparents are increasingly involved in third-party custody disputes with the parents of their grandchildren. These disputes most commonly involve grandparents who have already been raising their grandchildren for several years under an informal arrangement. These disputes may pit the child's and grandparents' interest in continuity and care against the parents' interest in family integrity. In other custody disputes grandparents are challenging the parents' fitness for custody. There are a number of different custodial relationships that can be created between grandparent and grandchild, including informal custody, foster care, guardianship, and adoption. In custody disputes between a grandparent and a parent, there may be a tension between awarding custody according to the parent's natural right and awarding custody according to the child's best interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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