For most grandparents, the relationship they have with their grandchildren will always be a special one. They indeed love them and enjoy spending quality time with them. However, some instances beyond their control can prevent them from maintaining a good relationship with them.
For instance, family relationships get strained, and as a result, grandparents are cut off from their grandchildren. This is where the issue of visitation and custody enters the picture. Under these circumstances, seeking legal assistance from different family law experts can be an excellent idea.
For grandparents who want to know more about visitation and custody and when they can step in, below are a few things they need to familiarize themselves to handle this situation more efficiently:
What Is Visitation And When Can A Grandparent Ask For It
Essentially, visitation refers to a concept in which a person is allowed to see and visit a child, spend quality time with them within a certain period, including weekends and holidays. This is done to maintain a good relationship even without physical custody.
For grandparents seeking visitation rights for their grandchild, they probably need to file a petition in court with the help of an experienced family lawyer. The judge assigned to their case will examine the petition’s merits and determine whether they can be granted visitation time or not.
Depending on what state you live in, there are specific requirements you need to prove to increase your chances of getting your petition approved. The common ones are to demonstrate that the grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests and that the visits are crucial to avoid harm.
However, aside from the requirements that need to be proved, it’s also essential to know when should be the right time for grandparents to exercise their visitation rights. The common situations can include:
- The parent has limited time with the child;
- The parent has been an absent parent due to abandonment, incarceration, and many more;
- The parent’s parental rights have been severed for whatever reasons;
- The parents are living separately;
- The child isn’t living with either parent;
- A stepparent adopts the grandchild;
- The grandparents have established a pattern of childcare or visitation for the child; and
- The grandparent has provided financial support for the child’s basic needs for a particular time.
As you can see, there are many instances in which grandparents can step in and file a petition for visitation rights for their grandchild. But, these situations may differ from one state to another. Thus, it can be good for grandparents who want to ensure petition approval to consult family law experts for valuable legal advice.
What Is Custody And When Can A Grandparent Petition For It
Custody refers to a legal term used to describe the relationship between a parent or guardian and the child under their care. It can be divided into two concepts, namely legal custody and physical custody. By definition, legal custody means the right to make sound decisions about the child, whereas physical custody refers to the child’s actual physical possession and control.
Just like visitation rights, grandparents may also file a case to seek custody of their grandchild. However, this legal process can be challenging to navigate. Hence, for grandparents who want to have custodial rights on their grandchild, the following are the instances when they can initiate a petition in court:
- The parents have passed away;
- The parents are living apart, separated, or divorced;
- The parents have a history of child rights abuse against the kid involved;
- The parents have mental illness and substance abuse issues;
- The parents abuse or neglect the child;
- One parent has been declared, and the other one refuses to take the child; and
- The child has stayed with the grandparent for an extended period, and separating them would potentially cause harm to the child.
As enumerated, some situations may warrant the filing of a petition for custody by the grandparents. But, it’s important to note that the perfect time for grandparents to step in may also vary from state to state.
Moreover, in custody cases, establishing that the custody with the grandparents is in the child’s best interest may not be enough to convince the court to grant your petition.
There are some other factors a judge may consider in a custody case. These can include the mental and physical health of the grandparents, their financial resources, their ability to care for the child’s emotional, educational, and medical needs, their availability to the child, quality of the home environment, and many more.
In most cases, grandparents’ love for their grandchildren is unconditional. In return, their grandkids need them in their lives as well. Unfortunately, a good relationship with them can be cut off due to some family issues and disputes.
However, grandparents would be aware of their rights to seek visitation or custody of their grandchildren in certain circumstances by keeping the information mentioned above. In doing so, it’s crucial to hire a lawyer for legal guidance to successfully start the legal process in obtaining the authorities’ permission.