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.

The National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights
This group advocates and lobbies for "the rights of grandparents to secure their grandchildren's health, happiness, and well-being," and has chapters in 40 states.

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.

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.


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

Kererickson, please check your email. - Kris, Editor

KrisFood on 2014-06-19 08:26:28

I have 2 small grandchildren ages 4 and 5 who live in Appleton Wi and I live in Altoona Wi. My daughter has a alcohol addiction and gave up her parental rights to my ex son in law.a year ago. She has since left the state and is bouncing from state to state. He is an army veteran. My ex son in law is not my grandson biological father to my grandson and they both lied on his birth certificate, although he has been there since the day my grandson was born. My granddaughter is his biological child. My ex son in law is a army veteran but has since gotten out after serving 4 years and 2 tours. He is physicallly abusive to both children and especially my grandson, now since my daughter is gone he will not talk to me or respond to my text messages. I have been involved in my grandchildren lives since the day they were born, I used to talk to them 4 or 5 times daily and now it's once a week if that. When I do drive over to see them which is 3 1/2 hours away I have supervised visits with his parents there. When I was seeing them on a regular basis they would come to my house for weekend visits and now my grandson keeps asking me when he can come to my house and they will not let either one of them come to my house. My grandson is in trouble at daycare all the time for hitting, biting, slapping other children and has been written up so many times they have stopped writing him up anymore. He was a very out going child and is now very subdued and my granddaughter is like a little mouse in the corner. They have put the childen in the bathroom in the middle of the night when they have tantrums instead of tying to comfort them during this difficult time and they dont understand why mommy left. He hits them in the head and swears at them drags them by there ankles on the hard floors. I don't know what to do I have talked to multiple attorneys but get conflicting answers and I have not been able to be with them on there last 2 birthdays. I have an accident about 1 year ago and I financially don't have the money to hire as attorney. I cry every night wondering if there o.k. and if I am going to get a phone call saying something bad has happened to them. I don't know what to do!!! Can somebody please help us!!!! my grandson pleads with me to come to my house!!! His other grandparents are on there son's side of course and take the kids most of the time. June 18,2014 11;42pm on 2014-06-18 23:43:12

My daughter is addicted to prescription medications, her husband is an enabler. We have had our grand daughter stay at our home over 50% of her life in the past 6 years and have provided 100% of basic need support for her first year of life and 75% financial support for the following 5 years. Because I left my job to stay home and try to help my daughter with her life situation devoting 60 hours per week to my daughter home and child care, unbeknownst to me I was interrupting her ability to take her opiod medications as she wanted and she filed a restraining order against me from contact with her or my grand daughter. The State of RI does not recognize that my interests are in saving my daughters life and my grand daughters safety. I do not want to be my grand daughters parent, I want my daughter to live and my grand daughter to be safe. My husband and I are now spending our 401K and mortgaging our home to pay for legal fees to try to gain visitation rights with our grand daughter and hopefully some medical attention for our daughter. Unfortunately, the law is on their side. In RI parents can keep their children from visiting with their grandparents for no reason at all and their are no spousal obligations for their spouse's health when they are slowly destroying their medical health. I do not know what else I can do. I suspect that in the end, all I have will be gone to legal fees so that the lawyers can enjoy their lives while I am homeless and hungry. My husband and I are average Americans, we work hard, attend church, help others, donate to charity, pay our taxes, keep our homes clean, respect others and believe in family.
My grand daughter must have abandonment issues. She must be wondering what happened to Nona and Papa? How can the law promote this type of hurt to a 6 year old? Due to the high number of prescription drug addictions in this country, the laws regarding grandparents need to be modified so families can take care of families.

vparen on 2013-10-01 08:38:00