People in Georgia going through the divorce process may have one more thing to consider. Reflecting a growing recognition of the ripple effects caused by divorce, lawmakers in Atlanta recently passed a bill that would strengthen grandparents' access to their grandchildren.

The bill, which still needs to pass in the Senate, would increase the visitation rights of grandparents with grandchildren involved in child custody, divorce or parental rights termination cases. The bill would accomplish that by empowering judges to evaluate whether giving grandparents limited access to their children's children would be in the best interest of the child.

In making that determination, the bill instructs judges to primarily look at two factors. First, they will determine if in the last six months whether or not grandparents paid at least half of the child's living expenses. Second, they will consider whether the child lived with the grandparents for more than six months. In addition to those two factors, judges will also consider the parents' wishes.

According to the bill, if the judge concludes that the child may be harmed without some contact with his or her grandparents, the judge can award the grandparents visitation rights. Those visits would amount to at least 24 hours per month.

If the bill passes, judges would be required to listen to the parents' preferences, consider the grandparents' role in the grandchild's life prior to the divorce, and ultimately decide whether it would be in the child's best interest for the grandparents to have visitation rights.

Should the bill be passed, those having questions regarding its application may find a consultation with an experienced family law attorney helpful in considering their rights.

Source: Savannah Morning News, "Georgia House gives grandparents visitation rights," Morris News Service, Mar. 7, 2012