This month, MSJDN’s pro bono program, Justice for Military Families, completed a project that serves Gold Star parents. Our Grandparents Visitation Guide provides a roadmap for Gold Star parents who worry that their relationship with their grandchildren is suffering due to the loss of the servicemember parent.

Since we began our partnership with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) two years ago, our pro bono program, Justice for Military Families (JMF), has worked to provide the best pro bono legal service possible. After we started taking TAPS referrals for cases, we quickly faced a common problem. Parents of servicemembers who had died sought pro bono legal assistance to find a legal means to connect with their grandchildren.

Placements were difficult due to the complexity of these cases. As an alternative, JMF decided to create a state by state guide to the rights to grandparent visitation when they’ve lost a child.

Numerous military spouse attorneys invested their time and energy in research, and completed the information for a number of states. In addition, the effort benefitted tremendously from a relationship with an international law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, which utilized its considerable resources to complete the project.

The result is a comprehensive guide that explains the legal requirements for grandparents to petition courts for visitation with a grandchild when the child/parent has died. It provides information to families looking to establish their rights, as well as a guide for attorneys whom these families might hire to navigate the legal process.

“We hope that this guide is helpful to Gold Star families looking for answers.” said MSJDN President Eleanor Vuono.

2 Comments, RSS

  • Joyce Peck

    says on:
    March 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

    We have not been allowed to see our KIA’s son only child since one year aftr he died. We were even sued over the rights to his remains so his babies mama could move his remains to an undisclosed location which is about as low as you can go. Our son was not married to the mother of his child nor were they.
    We have grandparents rights in Nebraska but you have to get an attorney to inforce them and it could run into thousands of dollars that retired individuals can’t arrord. In other words they are usless.
    My husband and I kept Pat’s daughter on numerous occasions and I also gave up many weekends to spend with her so there would be no baby sittings fees involved. We have kept her for 2 weeks at a time no problem. We even loaned her money to the tune of $1000.00 on a few occasions and then found out she used it to buy a new phone and $700.00 camera. We were told that money was for food and clothing but we wer elied to.Then Pat was KIA.
    Is it worth being drug through the mud and lied about by the mother of his child as well as all of those she has told so many lies too? Visitation should be automatic and one should not have to go to court to have visition with my son’s only child.
    If there were a law tied with insurance money (money with held without grandparent visitation rights being allowed) I know this would change. The money that was supposed to be put in a trust for Pat’s child has been spent on a $360,000. home. That’s a ton of money in Lincoln, Nebraska. I pray there is enough left for Payton to go to college as that is what the funds were for. My son expressed to all of us that he had his bank account set up so his babies mama would not get a penny. All of the funds were used to care for Payton and yes that did include a home put in a trust for Payton. That was not done as the brother that was in charge (an attorney) that tried to enforce Pat’s wishes and will was written off and she did what she wanted. My prayer is that this would not have happened in the first place but it started the day we heard of Pat’s death.
    Grandparents rights are meaningless if you have to hire an attorney to inforce them. This needs to be changed ASAP. We have missed out on four years of our son’s child’s life. four years of a double loss. First our son and then his child. Heart break upon heart break.
    Joyce Peck
    GSM of SSGT Patrik Hamburger
    KIA 8-6-11 Afghanistan Ext 17

    • Elizabeth Jamison

      says on:
      March 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Joyce, We are so sorry to hear about your visitation difficulties. If you are interested in help with your situation, we’d suggest reaching out to TAPS for support, including possible legal assistance.