Grandparents may be a bit surprised to find that grandparent’s rights are not as protected or clear as they might think. Especially when it comes to grandparent visitation rights, they may find that they have practically no rights to the grandchildren at all. While the law and requirements for visitation vary greatly by state, in general it can be quite a disappointment to find out that getting any kind of support or help with grandparent’s rights through the court is an uphill battle. Grandparent visitation rights are usually not granted unless a number of required conditions are met first. Grandparents as parents are becoming very common so always check out your rights.Often, the courts will look at whether or not the parents are married, if one of the parents is deceased, if the grandparents have been denied visitation altogether or if the children resided with the grandparents for a specified length of time. Because the laws vary from state to state, it is best to consult a lawyer or advocacy group for information on local law. Every state requires that the grandparents prove that the requested visitation be in the best interest of the child. How that is proven is part of what is different in each case and state. There are states that want to know about the prior relationship between the grandparent and grandchild and how the visitations will be handled by the grandparent, parent and child. Also, if the parent is already allowing visitation, (no matter how infrequent) will also be considered and could affect a request for more or longer visits.Grandparent’s rights to visitation with their grandchildren were deeply affected by a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Troxel vs. Granville. The Supreme Court ruled that fit parents be given more of a final say on who has visitation with their children in cases of death of one of the spouses or divorce. In this particular case, the mother and father had not married, and after the death of the father, the mother then married and limited the visitation of the paternal grandparents. As she was seen as a fit parent and the grandparents could not prove harm to the children, the court ruled in favor of the mother.What this particular court case does leave open is the possibility of court ordered grandparent visitation if the grandparents can prove that the relationship with the grandchildren was especially strong or if there would be harm to the child in not continuing the relationship. This can be difficult to prove and requires documentation or witnesses that can back up the proof offered by the grandparents.While the 2000 Supreme Court case seems to have issued a blow to grandparent’s rights, many states are in the process of changing their laws to accommodate a better fit for the child and their extended families. It may take some time, but there are growing numbers of organizations ready to help with grandparent visitation rights. Check online and in your local area for help and information.
In recent times grandparent visitation rights has become tough in many of the US states. Grandparent rights have been in question for a while. It was in the year 2002 the Illinois Supreme Court declared that grandparent visitation statues were unconstitutional. The court found that the law was against the fundamental right of parents to raise their children. According to the court the custodial parents could decide to what extent the grandparents had visitation and custody rights in respect of their children. Since then, for so many years, the lower courts declined to order visitation rights to grandparents and continued it until 1st January, 2007 when a new law was incorporated in the statues to provide court ordered visitation rights under certain circumstances.When a Grandparent Is Eligible for Court Ordered Visitation?Getting court ordered visitation under the present law is difficult and needs to satisfy certain conditions. The grandparents should prove the court that the parents have denied visitation and their actions are inappropriate for a growing child. To file a petition before the court for visitation at least one of the following conditions must exist in respect of the parents.1. Death: One parent of the child has died.
2. Inability: One parent is unable to look after the child due to mental illness.
3. Missing: One of the parents has been missing for at least three months.
4. Imprisonment: One of the parents has been sentenced to imprisonment or incarceration during the three month period preceding the filling of the case. Divorce and Separation: Parents are either divorced or have been legally separated during the three month period before the grandparent files the petition for visitation. A grandparent can also file a petition when there is a pending proceeding involving custody or visitation of the child and at least one of the parents has no objection for grandparent visitation.Termination of Parent-Child Relationship: When a court terminates the parent -child relationship, the grandparents can file petition for visitation. A grandparent whose parental rights have been terminated through an adoption proceeding has no right to file a petition for visitation. Child Born Out of Wedlock: When a child is born out of wedlock and the parents are not living together, either maternal grandparent or paternal grandparent can file petition for visitation where a court has established father’s paternity of the child.Besides the above conditions grandparents are allowed visitation rights when the parents voluntarily agree grandparent visitation. Courts uphold the existing court orders containing the provision for voluntary visitation of grandparents.In all cases the court takes the preferences and best interest of the child while granting grandparents rights for visitation. It also modifies the order passed by it if there is clear and convincing evidence to prove that such change is inevitable to protect the child.