A grandparent’s love will never grow old. In fact, their love even becomes more evident when they find their grandchild trapped in the middle of a contentious divorce.
Unlike parents with fundamental rights in raising and spending time with their child, grandparents do not have the same prerogative. Unless proven otherwise, depending on the family’s circumstances, grandparents must demonstrate how their relationship with the child is essential to the child’s development and, ultimately, best interests.
Conditions of a grandparent’s visitation
Unless the child is in imminent danger, grandparents cannot interfere with the parents’ rights to have a relationship with their child. But they can petition for visitation, or the in-person time spent between the grandparent and child, under the following conditions:
- A parent’s death
- A parent’s absence for at least 90 days, which means no reported location or reported by authorities
- A parent’s incarceration 90 days before the filed petition
- A pending marriage dissolution, with one parent agreeing to the visitation
- Unwed parents, who are not living together
To further establish the relationship between the grandparent and the child, the court also considers whether they had frequent contact in the past year and if the child resided with the grandparent acting as the primary caretaker without a present parent for at least six consecutive months. There may be no filed modifications to the visitation order before two years, unless the child’s physical, mental or emotional state is in serious danger.
Aside from visitation matters, grandparents often try to seek child custody as well. But unless the court deems both parents unfit or parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, grandparents cannot step up to the plate. In severe abuse cases, grandparents may also seek guardianship upon the abusive parent’s conviction.
An unbreakable bond
If you’re a grandparent, you must feel the urgent desire in ensuring your grandchild has a safe and stable environment, away from the tensions surrounding their parents’ divorce. But even with your best intentions, you must still seek legal representation to gain clear and convincing footing on your case.