There are many reasons grandparents may be seeking custody rights to their grandchild. There may be a pending or finalized divorce between the parents, the parent who was their child is deceased or there is a child born out of wedlock with whom they wish to have a relationship and for whom custody is being established.
If grandparents are being denied time with a grandchild, they may want to pursue action. It’s important to understand when grandparents do have custody and visitation rights to their grandchild, and when they don’t.
In general, if the grandchild’s parents are married and remain so, grandparents are not entitled to visitation. Parents have a fundamental right to parent their children free from government or third-party interference, and that includes grandparents.
However, grandparents do have rights when a divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment or child support proceeding occurs, especially if they feel they are being kept from their grandchild. In these cases, the court can grant reasonable companionship or visitation rights to a grandparent.
For visitation to be granted, the following must occur:
- The grandparent files a motion seeking these rights
- The court determines the grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the child
- The court determines that granting these rights is in the best interests of the child
What are the best interests of the child?
The courts look at several factors to determine the “best interests” of the child. These may include:
- The child’s wishes (if they are found to be of an appropriate age and maturity to make this decision)
- The wishes of the parent(s)
- The child’s relationship with the grandparents and any other members of their household
- The child’s adjustment to a change in home, school and community
- The child’s mental and physical health
- The parents’ mental and physical health
- The physical proximity of the grandparents to the child
Grandparents have rights in Ohio and can work with a family law professional if they wish to file a motion to claim those rights and need help with the process.