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Grandparents' rights: Nonprofit assists alienated grandparents

Though most people here in New Jersey know how important it can be for a child to have a relationship with both parents, many don't consider the impact of grandparents in a child's life. If a grandparent once had a significant relationship with a child and then is not allowed to see him or her, it can be damaging to both the grandparent and the child. Many do not realize exactly what grandparents' rights entail. This is the reason that several people from out of state made the decision to form a support group for grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren.

The group was formed by an anonymous woman in 2011. The first meeting of the support group, called Alienated Grandparents Anonymous, drew 50 people. Organizers say that the most likely reasons for parents to deny a grandparent visitation with a child are a dispute between families, or the divorce or death of an adult child. The group was classified as a nonprofit in 2012 and includes a therapist among its board members.

AGA now has branches across the nation and even overseas. The group is holding an international conference this month. Organizers have planned speeches from experts who will discuss the reasons for grandparent alienation, how to manage the issue and what kinds of personalities are often encountered in this situation. Therapists and psychologists say that grandparent alienation can be considered a type of elder abuse, and that children can suffer long-lasting effects.

Grandparents who have been cut off from their grandchildren could suffer from depression or physical decline. Those here in New Jersey and elsewhere who are curious about grandparents' rights regarding visitation with grandchildren may wish to reach out to an attorney. It could be the first step to reconnecting with a child who misses that special relationship in his or her life.

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