Grandparents’ Rights

Being a grandparent is like doing business, their children are the investment and the grandchildren are the profits. But there are situations where the grandparents and parents have severed their bonds and the grandchildren become casualties of war.

Recent legislation had been able to grant grandparents to have rights over their grandchildren. These laws are dependent by state but all of the states have a common form of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This law requires that child custody orders issued from another state will be considered by valid on the state where it is going to be imposed to avoid double filing.

Granting rights to grandparents is not a federal law and some even deem it unconstitutional since it may trample the rights of parents to raise their kids. To be granted custody or visitation rights, grandparents are advised to be knowledgeable about the provisions of law and before rushing to court and filing a petition. All provisions relating to the state laws on grandparents’ rights to custody and visitation must be met.

It is for the good of the child

The best interests of the child are always the main priority of any court. Here are some of the factors that may be considered by the court before it decides to grant the rights to custody or visitation to grandparents:

  • Safety and welfare of the child.
  • The emotional, physical, financial and other needs of the child.
  • Are the needs of the child being met either by either the parents or the grandparents?
  • The choice of parents. The requests of grandparents.
  • The decision of the child (if the child is already able to make a decision).
  • The closeness of the bond between grandparent and child and how long the grandparents have had ties with the grandchild.
  • Proof that there has been neglect or abuse by either the parent(s) or grandparent(s).
  • Drug dependency of either parent(s) or grandparent(s).
  • The impact of displacement on the child. Will the child be able to adjust in a new environment?
  • The location of the child, parent(s) and grandparent(s).

Custody

A grandparent can be awarded custody if they are able to prove that the parent(s) of the child is unfit to take care of the child or if the parent(s) are already deceased. The courts have more bearing in favor the parents’ rights than the grandparents’ rights in a custody case.

Visitation

With visitation rights, the court still puts the priority on the best interests of the child. There are still provisions that need to be followed or proved by the grandparents. It may include:

  • The parents of the child are divorced or separated. Annulment does not count because the marriage is null and void meaning the marriage did not happen or exist.
  • One or both parents have passed away.
  • The child was put up for adoption (dependent on state adoption laws).

For California, the courts usually consider factors in deciding whether to grant or not visitation rights to grandparents. This may include:

  • The parents of the child are divorced or separated. Annulment does not count because the marriage is null and void meaning the marriage did not happen or exist.
  • The location of the other parent is unknown.
  • The grandparents already have had a relationship with their grandchild before requesting the visitation rights.
  • The child’s parents must agree to grant visitation.

In 2001, the California court of Appeals declared that the provisions included in the granting visitation rights were unconstitutional because it tends to neglect the rights of parents to be able to raise the children on their own.

For grandparents, the best thing to do is consult a good family lawyer to know your rights as a grandparent if you are seeking custody or visitation rights.

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