Grandparents' Visitation Rights Legalizing the Ties That Bind

Ross A. Thompson, Barbara R. Tinsley, Mario J. Scalora, Ross D. Parke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In recent years, statutes granting grand parents legal standing to petition for legally enforcable visitation with their grandchildren-even over parental objections-have been passed in all 50 states. This psycholegal review critically examines the origins of and justifications for this important change in family law, some of the psychological assumptions underlying this policy (e.g., the role of grandparents in child development), problems in judicial determinations of whether visitation is in a child's best interests, and both intended and unintended consequences for family functioning arising from this policy In the end, although efforts to ensure multigenerational supports for children are admirable in the abstract, there are some significant risks in using legal policies for achieving this goal. Directions for further contributions from social scientists, as well as future directions in the evolution of grandparent visitation policy, are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1222
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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