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New bill would widen grandparents’ rights

The grandparent/grandchild relationship typically is a very special one with a positive impact on both sides of the relationships. Grandparents in Indiana would likely agree that these relationships are as important to them as they are to the grandchild. When a child’s parents decide to divorce, it is natural to have concerns about whether this special tie will continue—or be allowed to continue.

Psychology Today explains that the role of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren is being widely studied for its importance and its impact on the lives of all involved. It is part of each person’s identity and plays a significant part in their daily lives.

It can also be an important factor in helping children adjust to the circumstances of divorce and the upheaval it brings. Grandparents can provide a stable, supportive environment for them in the face of their parents’ changing roles and help them deal with the loss they feel during and following a divorce. If the grandparent/grandchild relationship is a strong one prior to divorce, its loss can affect the child as a bereavement or another trauma.

In response to the growing understanding of this important relationship, Indiana lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would give grandparents broader visitation rights. Currently, grandparents can seek visitation rights in the face of the parents’ divorce, when a parent dies or if the child’s parents are not married (if paternity can be established), according to the state Legislature.

The new bill seeks to allow grandparents to petition for visitation, even in cases where the parent refuses or limits the visit. It also gives courts additional factors to consider in making a ruling and expands these same rights to great-grandparents.