Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

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Whether it is through divorce, custody decisions, or arguments with the parents, grandparents sometimes find themselves with no access to their grandchildren. All they want to do is see their grandchildren growing up, before they have no time left. It leads to them wondering if they would have visitation rights. Here's a look at the question, as it isn't a straight yes or no answer.

It Depends on the Circumstances

There are certain circumstances where the grandparents won't have any rights. One of those is in the case of adoption. The birth grandparents would lose their rights, just like the birth parents do. Grandparents may be able to strike deals with the adoptive parents, but there are no legal requirements.

Cases of abuse in the family may lead to grandparents losing all rights. This will usually be the parents of the abuser or someone the courts believe will put the child in danger.

In most other cases and most states, there are rights awarded to grandparents. Court-mandated visitation may be set if parents and grandparents can't come to a decision.

Rights Unconstitutional

There are cases where the rights to grandparents have been deemed unconstitutional. This happened in 2000 by the United States Supreme Court. In the case of Troxel v. Granville, the Court ruled that Washington statute violated the parents' rights, and rights of the grandparents cannot go against the parents' rights to raise their own children.

Based on this, Washington and other states made changes to their statues. You'll need to check the statutes for your specific state to find out the details of your visitation rights.

Considering the Needs of the Child

Like with all custody battles and visitation cases, the needs of the children will always be put first when it comes to grandparents. The court will look at whether grandparents and parents are able to offer the children everything needed or if there are dangers with the visits. Grandparents must convince the court that it is in the best interest of the child to allow visitation by showing that they are able and fit to take care of the children. This includes living arrangements, income, and psychological well-being.

Prior relationships with children tend to be considered in these circumstances. The mental state and age of the child may also be considered, as judges will not want to put unnecessary pressure on children by going through court cases.

There is no instant right to visitation for grandparents, the parents decide if the grandparents can see the child in most cases. However, there are instances where grandparents can go to court to fight for their rights to have or see their grandchildren.

To learn more, contact a law firm like Thomas & Associates, PC