Child Visitation

Visitation Rights of Grandparents

| June 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

As a grand parent, there are various situations in which you may be allowed to visit your grandchildren.  Although the content of visitation rights of grandparents may vary from one state to the other, many similarities can be drawn from the various pieces of legislation. For example, the California law expressly provides that a grandparent has the right to request the court to allow reasonable visitation of his or her grandchild.  

The requirements for visitation rights to be granted

Visitation Rights GrandparentsFor the court to grant the grandparent visitation of his her grandchild, two conditions must be met.

ONE, there must have been pre-existing relationship between that particular grandparent and the grandchild in a way that a bond has been engendered between the two. This means that there must be bond between the grandparent and the grandchild such that the visitation by the grandparent is to the child’s best interest.

SECONDLY, the court must balance the child’s best interests in being visited by his or her grandparent, and the rights of the grandparents to make decisions that affect the grand child. Strikingly this balance is not easy and the court must consider many factors including the ages and gender of the child as well as that of the grand parent.

The exceptions to the general rules

In general, the law provides that grandparents cannot file petition in court for visitation rights while the parents of the grandchild are married. However, there are some exceptions, which include the following:

  • If the parents live separately;
  • If the whereabouts of the parents are not known for at least in the last one month;
  • If one of the child’s parents joins the petition for visitation by the grandparent;
  • If the child doesn’t live with his or her mother; or;
  • If the grand child has already been adopted by stepparent.

If the grandparent has been granted visitation rights by the court and then things change later on,  these exceptions no longer apply anymore, and thus either or both parents have the right to request the court to terminate visitation by grandparent at that a particular time. The legislations of the various states may also set out other conditions that the courts should consider before granting a grandparent the rights of visitation. To ensure that you understand what the laws in your state provide, ensure that you seek professional advice of a lawyer.

Always keep in mind that it will be more advantageous, less costly and less time consuming if you, and the other parties involved, try resolving the issues out of court.  You may actually consider mediation between the parents of the grandchild, and you such that you safely and openly discuss all your concerns and needs and try reaching agreement which serves your grandchildren’s best interest, and preserves the good relationship amongst them, and with their parents. 

The process of asking court for visitation rights

As stated above, any grandparent who wants to request the court for visitation of his or her grandchild should file petition in court. Figuring out the exact way in which this petition should be filed is not easy.  Already, there may be family law case or dispute between the parents of the child, such as parentage case, divorce, child support case, etc, and the grandparent can request the courts for visitation in any of these existing cases.

There may also be no any other open case, a case in which, as the grandparent you will have to file petition in court to begin the case from scratch. Many courts in the U.S have developed templates and forms which grandparents can use if they want to ask for rights of visitation of their grandchildren.

Check your relevant state’s laws to know the exact procedure that must be followed in filing a petition for child visitation by a grandparent. 

What will happen after the court hearing?

After you’ve filed the petition, a judge will hear the case and a decision will be made at the conclusion of the hearing. If your petition is successful, the judge will issue court and sign it. The court order will properly state and describe the nature of visitation rights that you are entitled to. If you or the respondent is represented by an attorney, it is the legal representative who will draw the court order, based on the court’s ruling.