Often at times when a couple is divorced and the case is brought to court for child custody, there are other people in the family that suffer too. Grandparents! No matter how messy the relationship of the couple is, grandparents always have utmost love and devotion for their grandchildren.
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Family Court Grandparents’ Rights
Grandparents have the right to meet and visit their grandchildren unless explicitly mentioned by the court otherwise. Usually in a family dispute, grandparents are given rights to form healthy relationships with the children.
How to apply for Grandparents Rights
If parents or guardians encourage or at least allow grandparents to visit their grandchildren, then no formal process is required. But when a grandparent (or another nonparent) approaches the court to obtain visitation rights, they must prove that it is in the child’s best interests. Courts will consider several factors when making this determination, including (but not limited to):
- The relationship between the child and the grandparent
- The relationship between the parent and the grandparent
- How recently the child has had contact with the grandparent
- What affect the visitation might have on the child and parent
- Whether grandparent visitation would unfairly interfere with the child’s time with parents
- Any history of abuse or neglect by the grandparent
Grandparents can simply file a petition with the court to allow them visitation rights or to grant them certain rights over their grandchildren, legally.
Under the law, as a grandparent, you can look for visitation (and possibly even custody) of your grandchildren if:
- Your minor grandkid’s dad or mom is no more.
- Your grandchild’s father and mother are divorced, or were never married in the first place.
- Your grandchild’s dad or mom has been absent for a half year or more.
- You have been granted visitation rights by a court of another state.
- Your grandchild lived with you for at least a year before being taken away by their parents, which has in turn affected badly to his physical or mental health.
- You held a noteworthy relationship with your grandchild for a year before your relationship was ended by the parent or guardians for reasons other than abuse, and cutting off the relationship will probably cause the child even more damage.
How much Visitation can Grandparents get?
At the end of the case, it is always the judge who decides how much visitation grandparents should be getting, but usually it is weekends and maybe some hours on weekdays.
Evaluating each case specifically, the judge grants visitation rights to grandparents, however, if in any way it is obvious that the grandparents are a bad influence, or the house environment is abusive, they might not get any sort of visitation rights from the court.
What States have Grandparent Rights?
According to VeryWellFamily, these are the various laws in different states about grandparents visitation rights:
- Alabama has a new law, passed in 2016, but the requirements for visitation are quite stringent.
- Alaska law provides two pathways for winning visitation, but one is much easier.
- Arizona law lists factors to be considered in determining the best interests of grandchildren.
- Arkansas law requires that grandparents meet tough standards for visitation, including the harm standard.
- California grandparent visitation law is relatively liberal, except that grandparents cannot sue for visitation with children living in an intact family.
- Colorado statutes and case law make visitation relatively difficult to win.
- Connecticut law allows “any person” who has acted in a parental role to sue for visitation with a child.
- Delaware has laws regarding third-party visitation, language that includes grandparents.
- Florida laws and judicial precedents make it difficult for grandparents to win visitation.
- Georgia laws were revised in 2012, making it harder for grandparents to be awarded visitation.
- Hawaii has a grandparent visitation law on the books, but it has been declared unconstitutional.
- Idaho statutes contain a single sentence about grandparent visitation.
- Illinois laws about grandparent visitation are long and detailed.
- Indiana law narrowly defines grandparents.
- Iowa laws passed in 2007 make it difficult to win visitation.
- Kansas law allows grandparents who have had a relationship with grandchildren to sue for visitation.
- Kentucky grandparent visitation law has been strongly influenced by case law.
- Louisiana law contains three statutes relating to grandparent visitation.
- Maine grandparents must have an existing relationship with a grandchild in order to sue for visitation or must have tried to have such a relationship.
- Maryland law is badly flawed, making it difficult for grandparents to win visitation in that state.
- Massachusetts is considered a restrictive state with regard to grandparents’ visitation rights.
- Michigan law about grandparent visitation is very long and detailed.
- Minnesota law provides three situations in which grandparents can sue for visitation.
- Mississippi law makes it difficult for most grandparents to win visitation.
- Missouri is considered a somewhat permissive state for grandparents seeking visitation.
- Montana takes a somewhat different approach to grandparents’ rights.
- Nebraska law is short and easy to understand, but also narrowly drawn.
- Nevada laws are long and detailed, posing significant obstacles for grandparents.
- New Hampshire does not allow grandparents to sue for visitation with grandchildren living in intact families.
- New Jersey requires that grandparents meet the harm standard in order to win visitation.
- New Mexico is sometimes considered a model for grandparent visitation law.
- New York laws are brief but not easy to understand.
- North Carolina statutes are bad news for grandparents.
- North Dakota laws are both good news and bad news for grandparents.
- Ohio law does not allow visitation with grandchildren who live in an intact family.
- Oklahoma law is long and detailed, but easy to understand.
- Oregon law falls into the category sometimes known as “psychological parent” laws.
- Pennsylvania law uses the term custody instead of visitation.
- Rhode Island laws are short and specific but do not allow visitation with grandchildren in intact families.
- South Carolina is a very difficult state for grandparents seeking visitation.
- South Dakota is usually classified as a permissive state with regard to visitation rights.
- Tennessee laws aim to protect the rights of parents.
- Texas requires that grandparents meet the harm standard in order to win visitation.
- Utah provisions for grandparent visitation have been steadily chipped away by case law.
- Vermont statutes for grandparent visitation have been undermined by case law.
- Virginia covers grandparents under laws referring to “persons of legitimate interest.”
- Washington has no grandparent visitation law in effect since the last statute was declared unconstitutional.
- West Virginia provides for visitation in two situations.
- Wisconsin is usually considered a permissive state with regard to visitation rights.
- Wyoming has provisions that are both good and bad for grandparents seeking visitation.
Grandparents have the legal right to visit their grandchildren, unless they’re deemed unfit for the children ordered by the court. Parents of the child are given the primary say and authority over the interests of their children, but keeping children away from grandparents without a concrete reason may be unfair and disrespectful.