You Be the Judge: A Grandmother’s Rights

A woman argues that she had a right to see her grandson, but her daughter claims she tried to “take over” during visits. You be the judge.

By Robin Gerber
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2007

grandmother holding grandchild's handiStock/Thinkstock

The Verdict:

Grandparent visitation laws vary from state to state. Under Illinois law, a grandparent who wants to see her grandchild regularly must show that a parent’s actions and decisions to deny visits are harmful to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

The circuit court held that Cindy’s voluntary visits with Elias didn’t create any problems and that Alice had tried to let a “natural relationship develop.” It was only after Cory filed his petition for visitation rights with the family court that Alice stopped Cindy from visiting her grandson. According to the circuit court, this showed that Alice’s denial of visitation was “merely retaliatory and punitive and patently unreasonable.”

The court also found that all other grounds for denying visitation rights to Cindy were unreasonable. Alice said she found Cindy “very intimidating” and didn’t like to be around her. Alice and her mother testified that Cindy didn’t show respect for Alice as a parent, yet they had few specific examples that warranted Alice’s decision to keep Cindy away from her grandson.

In addition, Cindy convinced the court that Alice’s refusal to let her visit Elias was harmful to the child. The injury was “not something that you can put in the sense of a direct emotional harm,” the court said, but Elias would be hurt by never knowing a grandparent who loved him.

The court ruled that as long as Elias’s relationship with Cindy does not undermine his relationship with his mother, Cindy has a right to see her grandson. Alice appealed the ruling, but the higher court confirmed the decision. Cindy now visits with Elias once a month for three hours at a time, unsupervised.

Alice is appealing the decision to the state supreme court.

Was justice served? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      I think that the mother has a right to control her child’s life. However, I feel that the child should be allowed to see his grandmother if he wants. Any issues between the mother and the grandmother should be dealt with calmly, not through court cases.

    • Dylan

      No one should ever not know someone who loves and acres about them. Especially family.

    • Sarah

      Honestly, a grandmother’s rights never surpass a mother’s rights. That grandmother is also a mother and apparently did a very bad job as one – her son is in jail for the second time. How can she question the mother’s upbringing of her grandson? I’ve seen many grans question their grandchildren’s moms and that is never good for the child. It only brings confusion and resent. She had her chance to be a mom and failed. Now, let the mother of the child be a mother and stop trying to disrupt.

    • jhg6

      The grandmother should absolutely be allowed to see her grandchild regularly.

    • Ted

      There can never be too many loving people in a child’s life and grandmother’s are the very best kind