More and more frequently, grandparents find themselves providing assistance to their grandchildren, ranging from occasional assistance to covering all of their daily costs of living. Yet, all it takes is for the parents of the grandchildren to split up, and grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren while still providing financial support.
A study done by the AARP found that a quarter of respondents spent over $1,000 a year on grandchildren, with 37 percent reporting that they help with everyday costs such as groceries, clothing and schooling assistance.
Despite the financial support, grandparents' rights are increasingly difficult to litigate due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the court struck down a state law allowing courts to order visitation rights for grandparents under certain circumstances. Following the ruling, many states struck down their own laws on the subject, and have never revisited or rewritten them.
The economy has played a large role in driving the reliance upon grandparents for financial assistance, with the wealth gap between parents and grandparents growing increasingly larger. In 2009, the wealth ratio was 47 to 1 in favor of the seniors compared to households with parents under the age of thirty-five.
As a result, many families grapple with visitation issues following a divorce and parents may use visitation access to grandchildren as a bargaining chip to get their way in an argument. Grandparents who find themselves providing assistance to their grandchildren need to protect themselves, even though the bonds of love are strong. Money makes people do strange things, including the use of emotional manipulation.
Source: Reuters, "Grandparents, purse strings and divorce," Temma Ehrenfeld, July 23, 2012.
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