Since 1994, Ohio law has recognized a grandparent’s right to visitation of their grandchildren if the children’s parents have died, they’ve separated or divorced or if they’d never married. Petitioning a judge isn’t possible for grandparents to children belonging to an intact family. In any of these situations, whether a grandpa or grandma is successful in petitioning a judge for visitation is contingent upon what’s in the child’s best interest.

In determining what’s in the best interest of the child, a judge will take into account his or her age. If he or she is old enough, the judge may even ask the child for their own preferences.

Also important is how far the grandparents live geographically from their grandchildren and how close of a bond that they have with them. It’s important that any visitation schedule that is brokered doesn’t conflict with a parent’s employment or spending time with their siblings. Any visits shouldn’t interfere with a child’s school day, vacation or holiday plans either.

Most judges will be unwilling to allow for any visitation with grandparents if either one of them has pleaded guilty to or has been convicted of child abuse. If they have a mental or physical health condition, then this may impact their ability to acquire visitation rights also.

Before a judge agrees to award any visitation rights to grandparents, they’ll want to be reassured that the child’s safety and health will be protected during visits and that schedules will be respected. They’ll also want to know how willing the grandparent would be if the visitation needed to be rescheduled.

Procuring visitation rights with grandchildren is often a complex and heavily litigated matter. You should consult a Cincinnati child custody attorney if you want to better understand whether you may qualify for grandparents’ rights and what your chances of winning them are.