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Visitation and child custody litigation may traumatize children

Being denied visitation with grandchildren can cause a lot of pain to grandparents. Some California grandparents may even considerate litigation in an attempt to gain visitation rights or even child custody. However, except when child abuse, neglect or substance abuse is a factor, the issue may be resolved without litigation. While grandparents may desperately want be a part of their grandchildren's lives, the best interests of the children must never be disregarded, and litigation may bring about adverse repercussions for the children.

The sudden denial of access to grandchildren often follows another traumatic experience, such as a divorce or the death of a parent. It may be even more distressing for children to have to cope with attorneys, judges and social workers at a time when they may be struggling to come to terms with the divorce or death that led to their current situations. Children are known for blaming themselves for such situations, and they may feel forced to make a choice between their grandparents and their parents' wishes.

Before choosing to litigate, grandparents may also want to consider the effect litigation will have on them personally. Litigation will likely ruin any chances of reconciliation with the parents of their grandchildren. Many aspects of their personal lives and the lives of their children may become public, and it may even be necessary to involve other family members or friends due to the need for testimony about relevant matters. In addition, the financial implications for both the grandparents and the parents can be devastating.

Grandparents in California may want to consider mediation as a way to encourage communication and compromise that may eventually lead to agreements that will benefit the adults and serve the best interests of the children. However, in cases in which dangerous situations at home have gone unnoticed by authorities, grandparents may want to take legal action in attempts to protect their grandchildren. This may not be possible without litigation, and they may want to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss their options concerning visitation or child custody.

Source:, "Before You Sue for Visitation Rights", Susan Adcox, Accessed on Jan. 31, 2015

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