Divorces are always messy, especially when the decision is not mutual and the case goes to court. And it gets messier if there is a child involved. You’re now looking at months of courts, attorney visits, finances weakened and of course, emotional stress.
It is definitely hard on the couple, but divorces are especially harder on the child. In all of this fiasco, grandparents are also often the ones suffering. They love their grandchildren, no matter who wins custody, and if they’re being denied visitation rights, it is particularly unfair to them.
Let’s see how grandparents come into play with the custody issues and what their visitation rights are.
Grandparents Visitation Rights
Every state has different criteria and laws for grandparents visitation rights, although a standard law for every one of the United States would make things a lot less difficult, that has not occurred and is probably not going to occur soon. Each state has a resolution accommodating grandparent visitation, however that doesn’t imply that winning a case is easy.
State rules can be named lenient or prohibitive, however that is somewhat of a misconception. The Supreme Court case that identifies grandparents’ privileges in Troxel v. Granville. This case included a Washington State resolution about the privilege of third persons to visit children. The Supreme Court concluded that the resolution was broad, as it required just that such visits should definitely be in the interest of the child.
By and large, the court concluded that the rule disregarded the parent’s right to choose custody and who met the child. This became a case of parents’ rights against grandparents visitation. Even though the case didn’t specifically mention grandparents, it by and large referred to all third parties. Following this Supreme Court choice, numerous states had the lawfulness of their laws tested in court.
Parents vs Grandparents Child Custody
Keeping the child’s best interest at heart, grandparents and parents might fight for child custody if they feel they’re a better fit to take care of the children.
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.
How to stop Grandparents Visitation Rights?
If the court has allowed grandparents to visit your child, you can’t stop them from meeting. However, you could prepare evidence that shows that meeting with the grandparents is no longer beneficial of the child.
The whole process needs to be handled legally, and with precautions. You can prepare for the case in order to stop grandparents visitation rights, legally.
If the judge allowed visitation rights because the child and grandparents were close, but if that’s not the case anymore and the child is not willing to visit, you can bring this issue to court. Or if the grandparents have moved, you can say that they have spent very less time with the child over time and thus the bond has weakened.
Next you will need to hire an attorney and have them file a motion with the court. There can be many reasons why you would want grandparents’ right to be terminated; for instance your child has gotten busy with studies and extracurricular activities that extensive visits with grandparents mess with his routine.
When the motion is filed, a hearing date is requested from the court, and a notice will be sent to grandparents that you wish to terminate visitation rights. They will also be sent a copy of the motion to know exactly what is going on.
The case is then brought for hearing where both parties are required to come to court and attend it. It is up to the judge to decide whether terminating grandparents visitation rights will be in the best interest of the child.
Grandparent’s Visitation Laws in different States
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. In such cases, a parent has the legal right to terminate grandparents visitation rights legally if the case and the reason for doing so is genuine.
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. So before you’re terminating grandparents visitation rights, make sure you’ve thought the whole process through and you know the rights in your particular state.