A family is not simply composed of parents and their children. Often, grandparents are a cornerstone in the upbringing of a child, and want to ensure they will always be assured a place in the lives of their grandchildren. It used to be the case that grandparent’s visitation relied solely on the outcome of divorce proceedings and agreements between the parents and their legal status in the aftermath. In many states, however, the courts and the state legislature have determined that grandparents and great-grandparents are entitled to fight for visitation and custody rights to their grandchildren, granted they meet certain requirements and guidelines. Child custody is one of the cornerstones of family law, and skilled child custody lawyers Arizona can count on believe grandparents should have every right to see or obtain custody of their grandchildren if they so deserve. Today, we will examine some of the requirements for visitation in some states, as well as the custody rights of grandparents later on.
Grandparents Visitation Rights
Visitation, in its most basic form, is the time a child or children spend with a parent or other family member who does not have the majority custody. This is often the case with parents who do not have joint or equal custody, and the parent with whom the child does not live may be granted visitation time, depending on court proceedings and the terms of a separation or divorce agreement. Grandparents also have visitation rights to their grandchildren, thanks to some legal changes by some state legislatures.
In terms of grandparent or great-grandparent visitation, the court will determine if interaction of the child and the grandparent will be in the best interest of the child at question. The grandparent must first petition the court to hear the case. When it comes before the judge, he or she will examine three important factors and if any of these three apply, they will be considered, as well as determining what would be in the best interest of the child. The list of applicable situations includes:
- The child’s parents have been divorced for a minimum of three (3) months
- A child’s parents have been missing or deceased for at least three (3) months
- The child was born out of wedlock (meaning the parents were not married)
These three items are determinants in deciding if the interaction would be optimal for the child. However, there is another list of requirements that come into play when figuring out the best interests of the child, which is comprised of things like:
- The motivation of the requesting party (the grandparent)
- The amount of time requested for visitation and how that may impact the rest of the child’s everyday activities
- The track record and history of the relationship between child and grandparent
- The motivation and reasoning of the parent denying visitation
- The benefits of maintaining a relationship with extended family
These five criteria are used to determine what is best for the child. When considered in conjunction with the situation of the parents and children, grandparents can make a strong case for how their continual and growing involvement in a child’s life will be beneficial. Though these are not the only factors, they are the baseline for any case or petition a grandparent will bring to the court.
It is important to remember that visitation comes into play when the parent related to the grandparent has not lost their legal rights to child custody or parentage of the children. For example, if a father does not have any visitation rights to his children, then the paternal grandparents will encounter many more obstacles, as visitation petitions rely on legal status of parents, which translates to a grandparent’s legal status. However, when legal status causes issues, there are other options in those cases, such as filing for third party visitation.
Visitation rights for grandparents can be a difficult issue on which to make a quality determination. If you are a grandparent and are seeking proper visitation rights for your grandchildren, you need to employ a quality family law firm to ensure you get the best outcome possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into grandparents rights and visitation.