Grandparents' Visitation After Divorce and Death: Litigation Strategies and Proactive Steps to Protect Rights

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide family law attorneys through the fiercely disputed subject of the rights of grandparents to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren after the death or divorce of a parent, as well as adoption of the grandchild. The panel will explore litigation strategies and proactive steps for the protection of child and grandparent rights.


The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be a healthy, positive, and important one. The Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville holds that the "fundamental right of parents to rear their children" includes the ability to manage the grandchild/grandparent relationship. This ruling strengthens the parents' ability to exclude a grandparent.

The two most common situations arise when a child's parent dies or a parent divorces and the surviving or custodial spouse cuts off the grandparent relationship. The issue also occurs where the grandchild is adopted. In extreme instances, living and married parents refuse a relationship between their child with the grandparents.

Expensive litigation is inevitable when the parties are wedded to emotionally driven positions. Well drafted prenuptial agreements, detailed divorce decrees, and estate documents can prevent or minimize controversy.

Grandparents can control some variables if litigation results. Courts consider the existing relationship and value a long-term, loving relationship. In a problem situation, the grandparent should continue efforts to stay in touch with the child, such as mailing cards and gifts, and keep a record of attempted contacts with the grandchild.

Listen as the panel discusses this legally evolving issue, and provides valuable guidance in responding to client concerns.



  1. Legal bases of grandparents rights
    1. Constitutional issues (Troxel v. Granville)
    2. State statutes
      1. Types of rights granted
      2. Interaction with Troxel
    3. Significant case law
  2. Proactive steps
    1. Legal drafting
    2. Prenuptial
    3. Divorce
    4. Estate
  3. Relationship maintenance
  4. Litigating the issue
    1. Evidence issues
    2. Influencing judicial discretion


The panel will review these and other high priority matters:

  • Constitutional issues relating to grandparents' rights
  • Interpretation of state statutes in light of constitutional issues
  • Steps to preserve and protect grandparents' rights


Canale, David
David A. Canale

Meriwether & Tharp

Mr. Canale currently practices in all areas of domestic relations and family law.

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Goldberg, Michael
Michael K. Goldberg

Managing Partner
Goldberg Law Group

Mr. Goldberg received his Juris Doctorate in 1992 from the University of Illinois College of Law. He received his...  |  Read More

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