What Rights Do Grandparents Have in Child Custody

Grandparents can play a vital role in a child’s life. There are both developmental and emotional benefits for children to have their grandparents involved in their lives in some way.

In some child custody cases, it may be in the best interest of the child to allow their grandparents’ visitation or even custody rights. While every situation is unique, the most common scenarios that grant grandparents’ custody is in cases when the child was adopted, placed into foster care, or the parents are deceased.

If you are the grandparent of a child and you’re interested in learning more about custody rights, reach out to an attorney who can help guide you through this process.

Requirements for Grandparent Rights

There are several requirements for grandparents to receive visitation or custody of their grandchildren. Overall, the court wants what is best for the child and will do their due diligence to determine if grandparent visitation or custody is in that best interest.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

The majority of states will take into consideration the marital status of the birth parents before considering grandparent visitation to determine if the child has enough support. The court will also see if either parent denied the grandparents to visit the child in the past.

Some states require that at least one of the child’s birth parents be deceased before awarding grandparent visitation rights. Courts will look at the previous relationship the grandparent(s) had with the child to determine if it was a positive or negative experience for the child.

Grandparent Custody Rights

If both birth parents are deceased, the courts will determine if custody should be given to the child’s grandparents. The courts will review the relationship between the grandparent and child to determine if it is appropriate to award the grandparents custody.  

If either or both parents are alive, it will be harder for grandparents to receive custody as generally, the courts believe the parents should be responsible for raising their child. The grandparents will then need to prove that both birth parents are unfit to raise the child. However, if either birth parent states it is against their wishes for the child to live with the grandparents, it will be difficult for the grandparent to win custody.

Adoption and Grandparent Rights

There are many different variations of state laws when it comes to grandparents visitation and adoption. In many states, once a child is adopted by anyone who is not a family member, the grandparent loses all visitation rights. However, in other states, if the child is adopted by a stepparent or other family member, the grandparents still have visitation rights. There are also some states that as long as the requirements are met for grandparent visitation, they will allow the grandparents to visit the child, regardless of who adopted him or her.

Next steps

It’s important to many grandparents to spend as much time as possible with their grandchildren. However, family relationships can sometimes be complicated. If you are in a situation where you feel like your rights as a grandparent are being challenged, reach out to a child custody lawyer relies on. They can help you identify the rules and requirements in your state and help you take the next steps in this process.