I'd Go to Jail For My Kids
Most states have some form of visitation statutes allowing grandparents the right to go to court to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. With more parents getting divorced, these laws evolved out of real need, and to benefit children. The vast majority of grandparents are loving, good people. When parents are found to be unfit, grandparents are often the best candidates to raise the child, and these laws have made it easier for them to do that.
While most cases settle out of court, the most acrimonious ones are difficult if not impossible to mediate. Judges are supposed to give special weight to the parent's wishes -- grandparents must prove how their visits benefit their grandchild. The problem is that every state has a different standard on how much evidence grandparents need to overrule a parent's right to decide what's best for her child, says Stephen Newman, a professor of law at New York Law School in New York City. The lack of clear guidelines makes these particular cases harder to decide.
In my state, a grandparent is granted more visits if that is deemed to be in the best interests of the child -- and if it wouldn't interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court also considers the amount of prior contact between the grandparent and the child.