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Grandparents ask for 'visitation rights' PDF Print E-mail
(3 Votes)
Written by DNA India   

With divorce rates increasing in the country, grandparents in the city are now demanding visitation rights.

EpaperImages_18122008_pg8_18-largeIt's been close to two years since Esha Agarwal met her only granddaughter, Amita. The child has been the centre of a very bitter custody dispute and Esha's daughter-in-law has refused to let Amita visit her paternal grandparents.

"No one pays any heed to the suffering of paternal grandparents. We also deserve to be a part of Amita's life," said Esha.

Nearly 20 divorce cases are filed everyday and an average of 11,000 such cases is pending in family courts. Techie Balamurugan returned from a three-month US-based project to be served a divorce notice. It has been close to two years and he hasn't been able to visit his children aged 10 and eight. "My children have changed schools three times because I was allowed to meet them for a few minutes by the previous school managements," he said.

Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting, an NGO with 500 members comprising fathers and paternal grandparents, has been advocating the cause of equal visitation rights. Nearly 70 per cent of CRISP members are from the IT sector. "There was a spurt in divorces since the IT boom in 2002. Most couples have children aged three or less and are now fighting it out in family courts," said Manoranjini Girish, counsellor, who works with divorcees.

"We want better counselling for couples contemplating divorce, so they ensure the child gets to spend equal time with both parents," said Kumar Jahgirdar, founder of CRISP.

The delays in settling custody battles leads to strained relations between the parent, grandparents and the child. "After the case is settled, while one parent, usually the father gets weekend visitation rights, grandparents don't get any time at all," said SR Krishnakumar, advocate with the family court. Aggrieved grandparents are forwarding a proposal to the Chief Justice of India and the President, seeking visitation rights, quick disposal of custody cases.

"The child becomes a pawn in the battle between angry spouses. We lose out on seeing our grandchildren," said Siddaiah R, a grandparent.

Grandparents cannot yet seek legal recourse to ensure visitation rights. "Since grandparents are not parties to the proceedings in the family court, they cannot apply for visitation rights," said Krishnakumar.

The court order on visitation rights has often been used against grandparents. "The father gets to see the child on weekends. The mother ensures paternal grandparents are not allowed near the child, referring to the court order," Kumar added.


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