There are times when grandparents may want to seek visitation or custody of their grandchildren. In most cases, the courts will hear requests when there is no one else to care for the children, but in a case of divorce, there are two parents still available.
For the most part, the courts are willing to hear requests for visitation so long as that visitation wouldn’t be detrimental to the grandchild. There are fairly strict requirements to seek visitation, though. The grandparents may need to show that one or both parents are unfit to care for the children or that they should be entitled to visitation or custody because of having their grandchildren live with them for an extended period of time in the past.
When can grandparents seek visitation or custody rights?
Grandparents may seek visitation or custody rights if:
- One or both of the parents’ parental rights were terminated
- A child was born to unmarried parents
- There has been a divorce
By law, grandparents must be the parent of a parent (including to adopted children).
What kinds of factors will the court consider?
The most important factor that the courts will consider is if visitation is in the best interests of the child. For example, if the child previously lived with their grandmother for six months, the court may grant visitation to keep that relationship strong. On the other hand, if the grandparent has only visited the grandchild a few times but has a history of a negative relationship with them or their parents, then the court may decide not to allow for visitation.
Every case is unique, so it’s important for those involved in custody cases to understand the laws and how they affect their cases. Grandparents are in a difficult position, because judges don’t often want to take away a parent’s right to choose who can or cannot see their child. However, if you can show that you meet the qualifications for the state and that you bring something positive to your children’s lives, then you will have a better chance of being awarded at least some visitation time.