Families can be complex and, at times, there can be difficult relationships within them that could keep family from seeing one another. When children are caught in the middle of divorce or, there is a situation where family is estranged from each other, grandparents may suffer the consequences of this. As a result, they may not be able to have contact with their grandchildren. In recent years, visitation has shifted to include grandparents. Prior to this, most custody situations really only included the parents. Do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren when faced with such a situation?
Who Makes the Determination for Visitation?
Grandparents do have the right to see their grandchildren. There are many factors to consider when it is determined how often visitation should occur. It may be helpful to discuss your situation with an attorney who understands family law and can discuss with you the options available. Each state varies, but, in most cases family courts are responsible for making a determination regarding the visitation rights of grandparents.
Settling Visitation Disputes Out of Court
It may be possible to come to a resolution through mediation rather than being required to endure the court process. If mediation occurs, grandparents may be able to develop a legally binding agreement with the child’s caregivers. When a mediator is involved, they will participate as a neutral third party, ensuring that all parties are able to share their information and hopefully, come to an agreement. Mediation can allow for both parties to come up with a plan of visitation together that will be beneficial for the child.
Primarily, there are two types of visitation laws:
- Permissive Visitation Law gives the grandparents the ability to petition the courts for visitation. There are far less constraints in this situation because it allows the grandparents to do this regardless of whether the parents are married or alive. In order to determine if visitation rights are appropriate, they will assess whether or not visitation with the grandparent in in the best interest of the child. The following may be taken into account when the court is making a determination:
- What does the child want?
- The grandparents physical and mental health
- Safety of the child
- The needs of the child and their overall health both physically and mentally
- Length of relationship and attachment between the grandparent and the child
- Whether or not there have been allegations of abuse or neglect on the grandparents part.
- Restrictive Visitation Law mainly applies when one or both parents have passed away or in the instance that the parents are divorced. Depending on the state that you live in, the visitation that could be granted by the courts can vary.
Visitation laws differ depending on the state where you live and your specific situation. Grandparents interested in taking legal action for visitation should look to their state regulations regarding visitation. Speaking with an attorney well versed in family law such as the family attorney Phoenix AZ locals trust to determine how to move forward.
A special thanks to our authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Family Law.