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The shaky ground of grandparents' rights

Divorce can be a scary time for everyone involved, but it can be especially troubling for grandparents. Sometimes they feel they have to take a back seat while their kids work things out as adults, but their lives are changing, too. The relationships with their grandchildren may also shift dramatically. Ohio grandparents who are wondering how their son's impending divorce will impact time with his kids should read on.

First, know courts are always aiming for the best interests of children. When it comes time to determine who should get to visit them, judges consider the relationship grandparents have already established with grandkids.

According to the Ohio General Assembly, the state's courts notoriously favor granting visitation rights to grandparents in three instances: parental separation or divorce, death of a parent, and childbirth to a single mom. In each of these cases, the parents or grandparents have to file a motion requesting the right to see the children, and the courts will decide whether visitation is in the kids' best interests. 

Even when a judge grants the right to see grandchildren, though, the decision is not permanent. In other words, when circumstances change, visitation rights can also. For example, the Ohio State Bar describes a situation where a granddaughter's mom gets married again and her new husband adopts the child. Since Ohio does not distinguish between stranger and stepparent adoptions, "the child becomes a 'legal stranger.'" In this instance, the grandparents may want to go through the process of requesting visitation rights once again. 

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