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Grandparents still wait for more help under family law

Years ago, extended family members were often close, both geographically and physically. However, in many situations, grandparents are often unable to visit their grandchildren as frequently as they would like, and they may not have recourse under the current family law provisions in their states. While California does provide for grandparents to seek visitation rights, there are restrictions on the conditions that apply.

The issue of granting grandparents the right to petition for visitation is often a contentious topic. Many states have ruled that it is a matter of privacy and that parents have the right to choose who can have contact with their children. Three years ago, one state passed another law that was intended to bolster the right for grandparents to seek visitation. However, the law has not had the desired effect, as the woman who first sued for the right to see her twin grandchildren has still been unable to see them. In that case, the woman sought the right to be with the children after her daughter went missing.

Though the laws vary by state, Florida is purportedly the most restrictive. It grants grandparents visitation rights only when parents are deceased, cannot be located, or if one is in a vegetative condition and the other has been convicted of a violent crime or felony. By comparison, California grandparents can petition for visitation if the parents are unmarried or if one has died.

There has been a concerted effort on the part of parents' groups to prevent changes that would grant grandparents more rights to their children. They cite privacy concerns and fears that the state will override their decision to protect their children from family members they believe are a poor influence. Though there are efforts to strengthen grandparents' rights, California residents who are experiencing difficulties in visiting their grandchildren may seek the assistance of a family law attorney who has successfully handled these cases in the past.

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