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Visitation Rights for Grandparents


In divorce, child custody, child visitation and child support are established by an order of the divorce court; however, visitation rights for grandparents are rarely addressed during the divorce process. This can leave many grandparents with limited or no contact with grandchildren unless they pursue their rights in court.

Evolution of Visitation Rights for Grandparents

Although divorce laws in your state and lawmakers have been slow to recognize and protect visitation rights for grandparents, every state allows grandparents to petition the divorce court for child visitation or custody of grandchildren. Grandparent rights are not defined in common law but progress has been made to protect visitation rights for grandparents.

In 1998, federal legislation required courts in every state to recognize and enforce child visitation orders for grandparents from courts in other states. Every state has enacted a similar version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, requiring courts in the state where a child lives to recognize and enforce all valid child custody orders issued by other state courts.

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Troxel v. Granville that a Wisconsin visitation statute violated the fundamental rights of parents to raise children. Other state courts have come to similar conclusions regarding visitation rights for grandparents. New legislation has been proposed in several states to modify the law.

< p>Divorce lawyers can assist and provide advice to grandparents who wish to seek a child visitation order. Certain conditions that must be met for grandparents to be awarded court ordered child visitation or custody vary from state to state. A local divorce lawyer may be able to advise grandparents as to the provisions of current state law.


Best Interest of the Children

Courts in all states have the duty to consider the best interest of the child involved before making child custody or visitation orders. In some states, conditions, requirements and guidelines regarding the best interest of a child are outlined in a statute, while in other states, judges may make subjective interpretations of state laws on a case-by-case basis.

Some factors considered when making visitation rights for grandparents might include:

  • Health, safety and welfare of the child
  • Ability to meet the needs of the child
  • Wishes of the parents, grandparents and child
  • Relationship between the child and grandparents
  • Child neglect or child abuse by parents or grandparents
  • Substance abuse of parents or grandparents
  • Child's adjustment to the home, school and community
  • Distance between the child and grandparents
  • Ability to love and nurture the child

Establishing Visitation Rights for Grandparents with a Divorce Lawyer

To gain visitation rights for grandparents, it is likely that a petition must be filed with the appropriate court. During divorce, the court hearing the divorce proceedings might hear the issue of visitation rights for grandparents. A local divorce lawyer may advise grandparents who wish to seek visitation rights about specific state laws, procedure and estimated time frame for establishing child visitation or custody. Connect with a local divorce attorney by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of grandparent visitation laws is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.