Most likely assume that family matters begin and end with the members of an individual nuclear family. Yet as societal norms shift, immediate family members have increasingly been placed into roles where their considerations must also be determined when dealing with issues such as custody and visitation. Both in Hawaii and throughout the rest of the U.S., grandparents specifically are seemingly becoming more and more involved in their grandchildren’s lives. According to information shared by the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 10 percent of American grandparents have at least one grandchild in their households. When grandparents are heavily involved in the rearing of a child, their rights might also be considered in family law rulings.
One concern that many grandparents may have is seeing their access to their grandchildren greatly limited should the children’s parents divorce or there be a falling out between themselves and their adult children. Many might think that it is well within a parent’s rights to not allow grandparents to see their grandchildren, yet lawmakers realize that having a strong relationship with loving grandparents may be important to a child’s upbringing.
Because of this, the state has enacted a statute that deals specifically with grandparents rights. Section 571.46-3 of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes says that grandparents can be awarded visitation rights for their grandchildren if Hawaii is the children’s home state at the commencement of the proceedings and it is believed that granting visitation would be in the grandchildren’s best interests. While the court will take into account the wishes of a child’s parent (whose parental fitness has not been questioned) as to who they do and do not want their child associating with when determining best interests, the desires of the child might ultimately override their concerns.