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Custody & Visitation Law

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Grandparents' Rights

Key Takeaways:

  • Some states give grandparents visitation rights if they show they have a substantial relationship with their grandchild.
  • Grandparents may be able to get grandchild custody if the child's parents are unfit because of abuse or neglect.
  • When a non-family member adopts a child, grandparents may lose visitation rights.

Parents may not want the grandparents to spend time with their children because of a divorce, separation, or other problems. Many grandparents aren’t aware they may have legal rights to see their grandkids, even if the parents don’t want them to.

When the child’s parents won’t let them see their grandparents, grandparents can go to family court. Grandparents can fight for the legal right to spend time with their grandchild. Grandparent visitation rights give grandparents reasonable visitation with their grandkids via a court order.

Grandparent rights laws are different in every state. If your family members won’t let you see your grandkids, speak with a local family law attorney. An attorney can give you more information about child custody rights and court-ordered visitation for grandparents.

What Are Grandparent Visitation Laws?

Each state has specific statutes for grandparents’ rights cases. These laws vary significantly from one state to another. Parents have the right to parent their child as they see fit, provided they are not declared unfit parents by a court. The United States Supreme Court ruled that state courts must defer to the parents’ wishes regarding who they do and do not permit to spend time with their child. However, most states have a way for grandparents to have visitation in certain situations, even when the parent objects.

Factors Affecting Grandparents’ Rights

Some states allow a grandparent to bring a visitation claim if there is a pre-existing grandparent’s relationship with the child. For example, if grandparents spent time with the child for years before the parents stopped allowing visitation, the grandparents could petition the court to see the child. The grandparent may get visitation if they can establish a prior grandparent-child relationship. However, generally, it must be more than just spending a few weekends and some holidays with the grandchild.

In other states, the family court will only consider grandparent custody and visitation when the child’s parents die, get divorced, or abandon the child.

Most states consider the child’s best interests when deciding visitation and custody of the child. The court may grant grandparent visitation if it is in the best interests of the child. Typically, the court will consider a variety of factors in each case, including:

  • The child’s needs
  • The relationship status between the grandchild and grandparent
  • Grandparent’s relationship with the custodial parent’s
  • The child’s well-being
  • The physical distance between the child and the grandparents

The rights of grandparents are constantly changing. Make sure you speak with a family law attorney to learn more about the current status of your state’s laws for custody of a grandchild.

Can Grandparents Get Custody of a Child After Suspected Child Abuse?

If a grandparent worries about their grandchild, they may be able to go through the legal process to try to get legal custody. A grandparent may need to show that the child’s parents are unfit because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

If a grandparent suspects a parent or guardian of child abuse, a court might be willing to award temporary custody rights to the grandparents. If a parent loses their parenting rights because of abuse or neglect, the grandparents may be able to get physical custody. Grandparents may also be able to get more extensive grandparents’ visitation rights.

If you suspect child abuse or your grandchild may be in danger, contact the police or child protective services.

How Adoption Affects Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparent rights may change when the child is adopted. A child can be adopted if the child’s parents abandon the child or lose their parental rights. Until the adoption goes through, the grandparents may still be able to have visitation rights.

If a step-parent adopts a child, the grandparents can usually still seek visitation rights. In some states, a grandparent can seek visitation if a blood relative adopted the child. In other states, adoption in any form doesn’t preclude a grandparent from seeking visitation rights.

In other states, adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents. However, state statutes and laws regarding grandparents’ rights are constantly changing.

Can a Lawyer Help Me Get Grandparent Visitation Rights?

It can be challenging for grandparents to deal with parents who refuse visitation. Many grandparents want to stay a part of the child’s life. Unfortunately, grandparents don’t have the same legal protections to spend time with their grandkids as parents. If you want to know more about grandparent visitation rights, talk to an experienced family law attorney for legal advice. An attorney can provide legal help to ensure grandparents can stay active in their grandchild’s life. Find out what you need to get grandparent visitation rights.

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