Grandparents often become an important part of children’s lives, forming an unbreakable bond that transcends material benefits. However, this bond between grandparents and grandchildren may be threatened by the health of the parent’s relationship.
When parents choose to get divorced, more often than not, the decision has a ripple effect on all parties involved including the parents, children and active grandparents. In such cases as this where divorce threatens to rob grandparents and grandchildren of the family bond, such grandparents can seek legal help of a family attorney in Spokane which grants them visitation rights, thus further preserving their relationship with their grandchildren.
The decision of the court to grant this visitation right, as in many states across the United States, is based on the best interest of the child. While several parts of family law happen to have evolved, this area of the law remains sacred, helping unsettled families remain connected in some way despite the development between partners.
For many states that make use of permissive statutes, the best interest of the child is not only considered but the interest and wishes of the parents are also factored into the overall judgment. With the interest of parents being considered in states with permissive statutes, grandparents may have to fight harder to secure visitation rights to maintain their relationship with the younger ones.
In a minority of states, grandparents’ rights and visitation requests are not based on the interest of the child but instead on the rights of the parents who have the authority to raise their child or children as they deem fit. In such minority states, the court allows the parents to own the decision as to whether grandparents will be allowed access to their grandchildren or not. Grandparents will most likely be denied visitation in the event the parents vote against the request. In states that support this type of law, grandparents are advised to pursue mediation with the parents as this is one of the best ways to ensure that both parents agree to the request.
However, in general, a grandparent that wishes not only to maintain a cordial and strong relationship with their grandchild but also wishes to demand full care and custody of the child may file a petition for custody with the court. The petition may, however, face some setbacks in the event both parents of the child are well and alive. This is because most courts prefer to have either of the parents care for their child. Grandparent custody may, however, be granted if;
- The child’s parents are dead
- The child’s parents are deemed to be unfit to care for the child’s welfare and other needs
- The child’s parents agree to relinquish custody to the grandparent.
- The child has lived with the grandparent or grandparents for the period of one year or more.
It is important to note that in all child custody cases, the court makes decisions based on what is best for the child. The court may also consider the degree of contact between the child and grandparent before awarding custody to the grandparents.
Grandparents Seeking Custody
As a grandparent who believes your grandchild will lead a better life in your custody, you may choose to request custody of the child while his or her parents engage in the uphill battle of divorce. To secure custody of your grandchild, you must be able to show proof of health, age, and financial capability to support and properly care for the grandchild. Following the filed petition, a court will sit on the matter, weigh the pros and cons of the situation before deciding whether to award custody or not.
It is important that in such a case like this, a grandparent must have a strong case to show that they are willing and ready to cater to the needs of the child while also demonstrating that they had a prior relationship with the child.
Custody cases filed by grandparents may also face more stringent scrutiny especially when the biological parents of the child are alive and well. Such a case as this may, however, be less competitive when the parent consent to awarding custody of the child to the grandparent.
Grandparents who choose to seek custody may establish unfitness in the form of proof of domestic abuse, violence, child neglect, substance abuse and other conditions that are deemed unsafe for the child.
However, an active grandparent may stand a better chance of custody when the custodial parent of the child dies. In such cases as this, the court will seek to establish the best option in the interest of the child.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
Families get torn apart in the event of divorce. Discord grows faster in high conflict divorce cases and this may affect both the children and the grandparents. In cases of high conflict divorce, grandparents may be caught in the crossfires as partners may choose to disagree with grandparent’s contact with their child or children.
In such cases as this, grandparents seeking to maintain connections are encouraged to pursue mediation between both warring parties, helping them understand their wants and the consequences of their actions.
If such a case proceeds to court, a court may fail to decide on the matter until all non-legal options have been exhausted.
All states have a provision by law that allows unless otherwise stated, access of grandparents to their grandchildren. The grandparent visitation statute specifies the details of visitations including the date, time, and circumstances under which the visitation can occur.
Restrictive Visitation Statutes
Almost 40% of states in the United States have enacted the restrictive grandparent visitation statute. The restrictive nature of this statute allows grandparents access to their grandchildren when the child’s parents are divorced or separated or when one or both of the child’s parents are deceased.
Grandparents may not be considered in those situations when the court determines the decision will not be in the best interest of the child.
A major section of the states in the United States has enacted the permissive grandparent visitation statutes which allow grandparents to obtain visitation orders at any time so long as the visitation is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.
A court may determine that visitation is in the best interest of the child when there is sufficient evidence to prove that there exists a strong and cordial relationship between the child and the grandparent. In addition, visitation can also be granted by a court when there is evidence to establish a consistent and caring relationship between the child and grandparents.