Information for Grandparents

As mom and dad separate, children may be cutoff from the extended family members who have loved and cared for them. The best way to stay involved with your grandchildren is to have everyone see you as a "solution" and not as a "problem". Avoid presenting yourself as a "problem" by hiding your feelings and staying out of the conflict, especially in front of the children. It is also important for you to encourage your child to make decisions in the best interest of the children.

Missouri Revised Statutes 452.402 and 452.403 address the rights of grandparents to access/visitation. There is a presumption that the parents of the grandchild, legally married and living together with the grandchild, know what is the best interest of their child. The Court may, however, grant reasonable access/visitation when access has been unreasonably denied for more than 90 days and 1) the grandchild is the child of their deceased child; or 2) the grandchild's parents have filed for dissolution of their marriage; or 3) the grandchild resided in grandparent's home for a least 6 of the past 24 months. Visitation may only be ordered when the court finds it is in the best interests of the child. The right of grandparent access terminates upon the adoption of the grandchild.

Rather than going to court consider some alternatives first:

  1. Try to communicate with the residential parent. Seek information and offer support. Do not blame or accuse the parent of withholding access to your grandchild. A common parent concern is that you will try to turn the children against him/her. Do everything possible to assure them that this will not happen.
  2. Let the residential parent set the ground rules and follow them to the best of your ability. This will relieve the parent's fears and you can expect more flexibility over time.
  3. Ask for permission to write, call, and/or send gifts to your grandchild. Use this opportunity to focus on your relationship with your grandchild. Avoid any comments about the parents' separation or disputes.

Mediation for Grandparent Access

Missouri Revised Statute 452.403 allows a grandparent denied access (visitation) to a grandchild to make a written request for mediation with the person who has custody or visitation rights with the grandchild. If ordered by the court, the Seventh Circuit Office of Dispute Resolution Services will provide mediation free of charge. Please contact the Director at 816-736-8400 for more information.

Suggested Reading List for Grandparents

Cover of Grandloving

Grandloving: Making Memories with your Grandchildren

by Sue Johnson (2006)

This book lays out a game plan to help grandparents grow closer to their grandchildren by offering specific tips for bonding with children, from babies to teens. Book contains more than 200 easy, low-cost, do-together and long-distance activities. Also provides ideas for handling visits, holidays, and family traditions.

This book is available at the Mid-Continent Public Library.

Cover of Helping Your Grandchildren Through Their Parents' Divorce

Helping Your Grandchildren Through Their Parents' Divorce

by Joan Schrager Cohen (1994)

The role of grandparents can be especially important in families caught in the anguish of divorce. This guide offers practical advice for grandparents trying to help their grandchildren survive their parents' breakup.

Cover of The Essential Grandparent's Guide to Divorce

The Essential Grandparent's Guide to Divorce: Making a Difference in the Family

by Lillian Carson (1999)

This book details practical down-to-earth advice and tips on how to maintain your support for your grandchildren, as well as your grown children.

The Grandparent Guide

The Grandparent Guide: The Definitive Guide to Coping with the Challenges of Modern Grandparenting

by Aurthur Kornhaber (2002)

This book covers a wide range of topics including baby-sitting, bonding, mentoring, appropriate gift giving, interracial families, religious differences, long-distance parenting, same-sex parenting, adoption, even legal issues such as divorce, estate planning, and visitations.

This book is available at the Mid-Continent Public Library.

When Your Child's Marriage Ends

When Your Child's Marriage Ends (Difficult Times series)

by Mildred Tengbo (2002)

When a child faces something as devastating as a divorce, it can be hard for everyone involved. The emotional, spiritual, social, and financial effects of the end of a marriage ripple throughout an extended family and can weigh heavy on a parent's heart. With sound spiritual guidance and emotional advice, this volume helps the reader heal and rebuild, offering insight into handling a divorce when it affects one of your children, grandchildren, and yourself.

On-Line Resources for Grandparents

Grandparenting From a Distance

The Grandparents Rights Organization
Offers information to educate and support grandparents and grandchildren on their rights to maintain a relationship.

Answers questions and offers resources for all types of grandparents (e.g., step-grandparents, full-time grandparents, long-distance grandparents).

Grandparenting Today
Links with you with other grandparenting web sites.