The Grandparents' Guide to Legal Resources

When you need legal advice related to your role as grandparents, these resources can point you in the right direction

By Gary Drevitch

Being grandparents involves more than sleepovers and s'mores. For those who have custody of their grandchildren, or for whom a bitter divorce has jeopardized their visitation rights, grandparenting can become a legal minefield. Following is a roundup of resources and tips available online for those seeking advice about grandparenting in difficult circumstances. (Note: does not endorse the views or legal advice provided by any of the following organizations. We provide these links for informational purposes only.)

I. Visitation Rights


The national organization for people 50 and older offers a primer on grandparent-visitation issues on its website.


Search for "grandparent visitation rights" on this clearinghouse of legal information to find state-by-state status of visitation rights when parents are divorced.

Grandparents Rights Organization

An advocacy group that supports laws upholding grandparent access to grandchildren in the case of divorce, the death of a parent, or other circumstances.

Your Child’s Divorce: What to Expect — What You Can Do

Psychologist Marsha Temlock's 2006 book features guidance for people whose children are getting divorced, including advice about child-visitation issues.

II. For Grandparents Who Are Primary Caregivers

This site offers legal guidance for grandparents who have adopted their grandchildren.

Raising Your Grandchildren

A site that offers its own guide to some of the legal resources available to grandparents with permanent custody of their grandchildren.

III. Support for Grandparents


The association's searchable database provides information and links to resources supporting grandparents and other relatives who are raising children, including support groups, child-care training, youth clubs, and more.

Family Strengthening Policy Center

This article from the center focuses on the critical issue of respite, or relief, for grandparents with the full-time obligations of child care. It also offers an overview of recent research on the success of grandparents offering primary care and the challenges they face.

The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center serves as a "national legal resource in support of grandfamilies within and outside the child welfare system."

American Bar Association

The ABA can help point you in the right direction for finding legal help in your state. 

IV. Also Available on

"Do Grandparents Have the Rights They Should?" is a guide to the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial 2000 decision in the case of Troxel v. Granville, which has been widely interpreted as limiting grandparents' child-visitation rights.

"When You're a Parent ... Again" offers an overview of the issues, legal and otherwise, facing grandparents who are primary caretakers.

"A Grandmother's Triumph in the Courtroom" is Lynne Gilman's detailed, first-person account of her arduous legal journey to gain full custody of her granddaughter.


My dilemma comes from dealing with an exboyfriend who had a child with my daughter. This has
gone on for 9 years. We cared for her for 6 years and then had standard visitation for 3 years. He
took us to court in 2012 which dragged on May-June 2015. We have Joint Managing Conservatorship with him which is a joke. We have always had JMC. my granddaughter is 9 going to
be 10 in August. Our visitation rights have been cut way back. She is upset; we are upset. I have been researching legal help for the last year and all the time before. We have spent much more
than I would have believed. Now the lawyers do not even return the emails or calls. I followed up
some leads from the OAG'S office which lists 5 things in consideration for visitation and the best
interest of the child. He manages to fall in 3 of the categories to be considered. This last hearing was an absolute disgrace. After we found out through genetic testing that he was the bio-father, he
was granted visitation. He had no license and ended up living with one of the drivers. Never married
but had a child with her. During our last hearing, apparently he was involved with another woman
during the trial (his lawyer knew) and he and previous girlfriend split-up. They have put my granddaughter through a "semi-divorce" as girlfriend #1 and he never married. They have arranged
child support and visitation around "their" child. He likes to play God and wants "to be in charge."
I have documents coming out of my ears; pictures; Facebook pictures; doctor information,etc. This
is absolutely unbelievable. I have printed what is on your site which has given me some new leads,
but paying for them is another issue and having someone call you back or email is another thing. I
could go on, but I hope you have the idea. in addition, we have been dealing with illegal shenangians.
a semi-divorce on 2016-05-04 13:14:01

Pam, recently we came out of similar situation when we were not allowed to visit my nephew but we filed a case for visitation rights with the help of lawyers at and won the case. You also have complete rights for visitation, hope you get your rights soon. on 2015-04-20 05:52:15

I desperately need help/suggestions! My 25 year old son, who was a disabled Veteran, passed away in October. His ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant with my son's child, left last spring to get back together with her ex-husband and completely cut off all communication with my son and our family at that time. My son has no other children and as I mentioned, he passed away. Neither she nor her family will respond to our pleas to see and know our grandchild (who was born in September or early October) or even see a photo and know his name. I guess I will be required to hire a private investigator to find her and the baby and an attorney to prove paternity and get visitation. This will be an extreme financial hardship for me, so I'm wondering if there are any resources to help with this type of situation and what my chances are of getting visitation rights so my grandson can grow up knowing his father's family. Thank you for your suggestions. Pam on 2014-12-31 16:55:18

I just found this forum looking around for some resources for Grandparents who are kept from their Grandchildren. Unusual situation I think. I raised my grandson for eight years as was desired by his mother who lived with me but was dealing with depression and ocd. I was single breadwinner of the household and was having a lot if difficulty finding employment. I am a MFT . I decided to up a little north to a big city to find employment. My grandson had four months left of school and wanted to finish with his friends. His mother was incarcerated for shoplifting which is common for some OCD sufferers. So I asked my oldest daughter to let him stay until school was over. She agreed and every month I gave her money clothes and necessities along with toys and came to town every week and a half to see them. I was not leaving my Grandchild. Well one day I showed up and she wouldn't answer the door she literally told me I couldn't have him and I has refused to allow me to see him talk to him or know how he is. She rejects all phone calls from me and his biological Mother. I don't understand but she literally has decided to keep him. I am devestated confused and in a cloud of pain and constant distress. I don't know what happened or why she won't even talk to me. I have watched carefully and there is nothing legal she has applied for but I did find that she applied for something called A California Caregiver. I think she gets food stamps and medical for him through this program. But WHAT DO I DO NEXT? I swear I am shocked and utterly confused. My Grandson was my life and he was happy and thriving with me. Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Nana Vicki on 2014-10-30 23:07:17

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