Do grandparents have visitation rights?
Yes, grandparents can have visitation rights if the court determines that there was a pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and the child that has “engendered a bond.” In plain English, in means that a judge, after hearing the evidence, determines that it is in the best interest of the child to see his or her grandparents. The visitation, of course, has to be reasonable. The parent(s) still retain the rights to make decisions about their child.
As this process can be painful for all concerned, it may be in everyone’s best interest to try to resolve these issues out of court.
Mediation between all parties is a good way to discuss the emotional needs and concerns of everyone involved and to work out a mutually agreeable solution. An experienced family law attorney can help you find a mediator that specializes in grandparent-grandchildren issues.
Do grandparents have visitation rights only if the parents are divorced?
In general, grandparents cannot file for visitation rights while the grandchild’s parents are married. But there are exceptions, like:
• The parents are living separately;
• A parent’s whereabouts are unknown (and have been for at least a month);
• One of the parents joins the grandparent’s petition for visitation;
• The child does not live with either of his or her parents; or
• The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.