Signed Agreements for Grandparent Visitation

There are few joys in life that can compare to having grandchildren.  Having grandchildren often means that you get to experience the fun of playing with your wonderful grandchildren while the parents still do the “heavy lifting” of the parenting.  In the optimal situation, you will get along well with the parents, and you all can coordinate schedules to maximize the time you get to spend with your grandchildren.  That is not, however, always the case.  In some cases, grandparents and parents will struggle to come to an agreement on what is an appropriate schedule for the children.  In some cases, the parties may want to consider a signed agreement.

The main benefit of having a signed agreement concerning visitation between the grandparents and the grandchildren is that it provides a framework that tells everyone what to expect.  If the signed agreement is sufficiently specific, then both the grandparents and the parents will know when and how often the grandparents can expect to see the children.  The signed agreement can also make provision for holidays, vacation, and even communication regarding extracurricular activities.  This type of signed agreement can mean that the parties do not have to get into a negotiation every time the grandparents may want to see the children, as the agreement already sets out what is expected.

Parties considering entering into a signed agreement for grandparent visitation need to keep one essential thing in mind: a signed agreement standing alone is not a court order.  In other words, if either party wants to revoke their consent to that agreement at any time, they are free to do so.  This is most important when considering the parents’ rights.  Absent a court order to the contrary; parents have the right to decide how their children spend their time and with whom.  Accordingly, unless and until a signed agreement for grandparent visitation is incorporated into a court order, the parents are free to void the signed agreement at any time.  The signed agreement is not enforceable like a court order.  That said, grandparents may be able to use the signed agreement in subsequent custody or visitation litigation as evidence that the parents agreed at one point that contact between the grandparents and the grandchildren was best for the children.

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