Impact of divorce on grandparents

According to Dr. Arnold Kornhaber, co-author of Grandparents-Grandchildren: The Vital Connection, the grandparent-grandchild bond is second only in emotional importance to the bond between parents and children. For grandparents, grandchildren represent a form of symbolic immortality. So what happens when their child, the parent of their only grandchildren, gets divorced and loses visitation rights? In 1984, the New York Supreme Court ruled in such a case, over the objections of a boy’s mother and adoptive father, that his paternal grandparents have a right under state law to visit their grandson even through his real father no longer had visitation rights. By 1990, laws in all 50 states allow the grandparents to petition the courts to keep seeing their grandchildren. It is interesting that the time when most of these laws protecting granparent visitation rights were established, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, corresponded with the 1978 establishment of “Grandparents Day” (which falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day). In fact, getting Congress to pass legislation for Grandparent’s Day was no easy feat. A retired real estate developer with a number of older supporters lobbied for six years until it was made official.


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