Grandparent Visitation Rights
Grandparents have a legal right, by statute, to petition for visitation of their grandchildren. There is a two-step process which determines whether the grandparents can be successful. The first step is to establish standing (think of this as legal entitlement) to proceed. Standing is automatic where either or both parents are deceased. Where both parents are alive, standing is a matter of equity (think of this as fairness regarding a relationship), which is usually found if the grandparents have had a regular and positive course of contact with the grandchildren.
Standing is determined after submitting a petition to the Court. If standing is established, and if an agreement between the parties is not reached, the Court must hold a hearing as to whether grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the grandchildren. Generally speaking, best interests and visitation decisions are made with the fundamental goal of benefitting the children’s emotional development. If the grandparent visitation is found to be in the grandchildren’s best interests, it can be granted over the objection of the parent or parents. The Courts point out that visits with a grandparent are precious and cannot be derived from any other relationship.
Antagonism between grandparents and parents will not alone be a barrier to visitation, for it is implicit in the fact that a statutory vehicle was created for this relief, that the grandparents and parents are not getting along. However, when combined with severe family dysfunction, the antagonism could reach a level where it would not be practical for the parties to have any contact. Nevertheless, the Courts recognize the value of a continuing relationship with the child’s grandparents, and that having the love from and benefits of a relationship with their grandparents can undoubtedly have a significant and long-term positive effect on their lives.
Please click on this link to read more about grandparental rights.