What To Know About A Grandparent's Visitation Rights

As a grandparent, in some circumstances you may feel a need to petition the court for visitation rights to spend time with your grandchild. Normally, a judge won't consider the issue of visitation for grandparents if the parents are happily married and the child is happy and healthy. If, however, the circumstances warrant, grandparents can get visitation rights. If you are interested in taking legal action to assure time spent with your grandchild, read on to find out how a judge determines your rights to visitation.

While every state has different provisions for grandparents seeking visitation, most states follow the overall guidelines of acting in the best interest of the child. Keep in mind that if the visitation you have in mind could be interpreted in any way as harmful to the child, you will not get far in your request.

A Grandparent Can Seek Visitation in Certain Circumstances

There are several situations where a judge might consider visitation for a grandparent, such as:

  • The parents are divorcing and the parent who receives physical custody has no relationship or an adversarial relationship with the grandparents.
  • One parent has died and the living parent has an adversarial relationship with the grandparent.
  • One parent is incarcerated or physically or mentally incapacitated and the custodial parent has an adversarial relationship with the grandparent.

What the Judge Will Consider

Once a basis for the grandparent's right to petition for visitation is established, the judge will consider the best interests of the child, taking into account the following factors:

  • The child's mental and physical health.
  • The child's wishes.
  • The likelihood of the child being able to adjust to a visitation schedule with the grandparent.
  • The convenience of the grandparent's location with respect to the child's home.
  • The degree with which the child is attached to the grandparent and their relationship.
  • The living conditions of the grandparent, taking into consideration safety, health and social aspects of the the grandparent's home.

A Larger Share of Visitation

Under certain extreme circumstances, the courts can expand a grandparent's visitation to encompass nearly full time, if warranted. The following situations can lead to a grandparent being awarded a greater share of visitation:

  • The parent is abusive and the grandparent is seeking full custody.
  • The parent is in drug treatment and temporary expanded visitation is granted.
  • The parent is financially dependent on the grandparent for support.

Seeking visitation as a grandparent can be a confusing and potentially adversarial process, but the rewards of having a relationship with a grandchild are well worth the trouble. You will need a professional family law attorney, like those at Karp Law Offices, to guide you through this process in gaining visitation with your grandchild.