In 2000, the United States Supreme Court overturned Troxel v. Granville in which the parents of their deceased son petitioned a Washington State court for more access to their son's children, their grandchildren. The decision, which included six opinions on the matter, sparked a lively discussion on the subject of grandparents’ rights to visit and parents’ rights to make such determinations for their children.
When parents divorce, it can be difficult for grandparents to have ongoing contact with their grandchildren, especially if the parents are hostile to one another. This does not mean that grandparents do not have visitation rights per se, and, in fact, grandparents have legal recourse if they can prove they have no access to their grandchildren.
While a grandparent can petition the court for the right to visit their grandchildren at any time, it might be advantageous to the grandparent if the judge is deciding other terms of visitation simultaneously. Thus, when parents are in the process of divorce, and there is an open case relating to the children of the marriage, including issues relating to child support, child custody or parenting time, grandparents should consider submitting a request for visitation rights at the same time.
The court is likely to grant visitation rights to grandparents if:
Visitation of the grandparents is in the best interest of the children
Grandparents have a previously established and strongly bonded relationship with the grandchildren
There is no history of abuse, domestic violence or substance abuse
The court determines that there is no risk of abduction
The grandparents do not speak ill of either parent
Neither parent voices an objection to visitation
In some cases, a judge might order supervised visitation with grandparents.
Posted in Child Support & Custody | Tagged child custody, family law attorney, grandparents' rights, visitation rights