The laws surrounding grandparent's visitation rights is currently in a state of flux. A number of important courts decisions have come down over the past few years, but every state has different rules and laws.
Courts grant visitation or custody to grandparents only when certain conditions provided in state statutes are met. Conditions for a grandparent to attain custody differ from those conditions required for visitation rights. A grandparent should be familiar with the conditions for either custody or visitation before determining whether to file a petition to request either from a court of law.
Best Interests of the Child
Courts in every jurisdiction must consider the "best interests of the child" when granting custody or visitation rights to a grandparent. In some states, the relevant statute provides a list of factors the court should considered when determining a child's best interests. Other states do not provide factors in the statute, but courts in those states typically identify factors in custody and visitation cases interpreting the state statutes.
The following factors in determining the best interest of the child are among those included in state statutes and case law:
What if the Biological Parent is Abusive?
If a grandparent can show that a parent is abusive, unfit, or incompetent, courts are far more willing to grant permissive (and in some cases permanent) rights to grandparents if it is in the best interest of the child. In addition, courts have been very willing to grant visitation rights during the divorce period.
It is usually best to try to resolve grandparenting time problems amicably, as opposed to through the courts. It may be that the parent who is refusing access will be amenable to having the dispute mediated by a qualified professional. It is usually best to make litigation a last resort -- to be used only when all else has failed.
Get Legal Help with Your Grandparent Visitation or Custody Case
Child custody and visitation laws surrounding grandparents' rights are constantly changing in different states. If you're trying to determine the visitation and custody rights of grandparents, you should consider consulting a family law attorney for advice. A lawyer can assist you in understanding the laws in your state, determining the right approach to child custody and visitation, and, if needed, making your case to the court. Reach out to an experienced family law attorney near you today.