A unanimous Georgia House of Representatives has recently decided that when it comes to a divorce, grandparents should also have some rights to their grandchildren. While many in Georgia may think that a divorce and child custody battle is only affecting the parents and the children, other family members sometimes get pushed to the side in a custody determination. While it seems that the current Georgia child custody laws do not protect grandparents, this bill would allow grandparents to spend at least 24 hours a month with their grandchildren.

If passed, the bill would allow grandparents who have paid some of the child’s financial expenses for a year to have some visitation rights if a child becomes involved in a termination of parental rights proceeding or a divorce and child custody battle. Although it does not appear that the bill would automatically grant grandparents these rights, it would give a judge determining custody the ability to determine that it would not be harmful for the child if he or she didn’t have some contact with the grandparents.

Child custody can be a very difficult thing to determine and most Georgia judges are working off of what will be best for the child. While his or her main focus is how to apportion custodial and visitation rights amongst the divorcing parents, there are many other parties who could potentially lose contact with the children if judges cannot or will not consider them. This bill could provide Georgia grandparents with the ability to see and spend time with the grandchildren that they have helped keep fed, clothed or otherwise cared for.

Grandparents who also regularly visited with the child before and during the custody hearings may also be able to gain some visitation rights in Georgia family courts.

As this bill moves along, it could provide considerable hope for the grandparents who have been cut off from their grandchildren because of messy divorces.

Source: Independent Mail, “Grandparent visit rights backed under Ga. bill,” March 7, 2012