Visits with grandparents are a precious and integral part of a child's experience. The loving and nurturing relationship between grandparents and a grandchild provides the child with intangible benefits that cannot be derived from any other relationship. However, grandchildren are increasingly the product of broken homes and are being deprived of contact with their grandparents. The law has provided a means by which grandparents can seek visitation with their grandchildren.
The law does not give a grandparent an absolute or unqualified right to visitation. As with all cases involving child custody and visitation, the single and only question if "what is in the best interests of the children?" It is the grandparent's burden to show that it is in the best interest of the child for the grandparent to have visitation.
Before the court will even consider whether visitation is in the best interests of the child, the grandparent must show that he or she has "standing" to seek visitation. Only a natural grandparent or grandparent through adoption has standing to seek visitation with a grandchild. A grandparent only has standing to seek visitation with a grandchild if the child's parent is deceased "or where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene." Therefore, where a child's parent has died the grandparent has standing to seek visitation, which will be granted if the court finds that visitation is in the best interests of the child. If, however, both parents are alive, the grandparent seeking visitation must show some circumstance justifying judicial intervention.
There are no "hard and fast" rules to determine when circumstances exist so as to require courts to impose their equitable powers to grant a grandparent visitation with their grandchildren. Each case in unique, and must be decided on its own facts and circumstances.
In order to have and maintain visitation with grandchildren, the grandparent should attempt to build meaningful relationship with the child as soon as possible. If the grandparent's efforts to have visitation are rebuffed by the child's parent, the grandparent should document his or her attempted contacts and continue to send birthday and holiday cards and presents to the grandchild and take other reasonable steps to maintain the relationship with the grandchild.
If you would like to try and negotiate a grandparent visitation agreement or make a request to the Court for grandparent visitation, please contact us.
We can counsel you in negotiating and drafting an agreement concerning visitation with your grandchild. In addition, we can draft and submit to the Court an appropriate request for grandparent visitation. Finally, we can represent you in Court and conduct a hearing on any request for grandparent visitation.
To discuss your questions or concerns about grandparent visitation, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.