Grandparents included in divorce arrangements

Picture from The Guardian

Events on both sides of the Atlantic have drawn attention to an on going debate about a grandparent’s right to see or visit their grandchildren following their children’s divorce.

In Brazil, a law was approved on Monday that gives grandparents visitation rights “according to criteria established by a judge in accordance with the best interests of the child or adolescent.”  Previous legislation did not provide such rights for grandparents.  According to Tocantins Senator Kátia Abreu, who introduced the bill, “[a]t the end of a marriage, it is usual for disagreements and resentment to arise between the couple which often leds to a tendency to revenge and retaliation.”  This in turn, “usually ends up removing the smallest coexistence [between the child and]  its extended family.”  The bill thus aims to correct this situation.  According to the Sen. Abreu, the law might also require that grandparents “provide material and emotional assistance to their grandchildren.”

In the United Kingdom, a law proposal would encourage that grandparent visitation rights form part of future divorce agreements.  However, the law stops short of granting set legal rights to grandparents.  According to David Norgrove,  who chairs the law’s review panel, it is important to encourage both families to work together following a divorce.  Nonetheless, granting grandparents legal rights to visit their grandchildren is considered “too blunt” and is “approaching the situation from the wrong perspective,” as it potentially leads to situations that “could damage the children involved. ”

As a larger percentage of the population ages, policy discussions such as this are likely to become more common.  Share your thoughts on this debate with IAHSA.  Should grandparents be given rights to automatically see their grandchildren after a divorce?  How would these rights benefit the grandparent and the child?  Under what circumstance would it be harmful?

For more information:

O Globo (Portuguese Only)

BBC News

The Guardian

The Washington Post