Are grandparents entitled to visitation?
Unfortunately, the answer in many states is no. While every state has some laws or statutes regarding grandparent visitation, the laws in many states make it extremely difficult for grandparents to win visitation rights. Some states don’t allow grandparents to sue for visitation rights at all if their grandchildren are living in intact families.
The reality is that the biological parents hold most rights when it comes to minor children.
Court Ruling Impacts
In 2000, a U.S. Supreme Court decision significantly impacted grandparent’s rights in all states. The decision said that parents’ choices about their children are presumed to be in the best interests of their children, even if the parents choose to cut off contact with their grandparents.
This decision meant that grandparents would have to prove in court that contact with their grandchildren is in the best interests of their grandchildren to such a degree that it justifies overruling the parents’ decision.
That’s a significant burden of proof on the grandparents. Not to mention the monetary and emotional costs that come with bringing forward a lawsuit that pits family member against family member.
There are a few states, according to an article in Verywell family
, that have slightly more permissive grandparent visitation rights, including California, Missouri, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Grandparent Visitation Rights Considerations
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- How much contact the grandparents have had with their grandchildren before asking the court for visitation rights
- The location of the grandparent’s home and the distance between it and the child’s primary residence
- The child and parents’ time availability
- The child’s age
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to be interviewed by the court
- The health and safety of the child
- The amount of time the child has available to spend with siblings
- The mental health of all parties
If you are considering filing for grandparent visitation rights, it is highly recommended that you consult with a family law attorney in the state in which your suit will be filed–usually it is the state in which your grandchild is a permanent resident.