Factors Considered for Grandparent Visitation and Custody

The grandparents may be awarded custody of the children under certain circumstances. Generally the state law lays the requirements to be met if the grandparents are to be awarded custody of the children. These requirements are generally different from the requirements for grandparent visitation. Please check with your state laws.

Best Interests of the Child

Courts across the nation consider the best interest of the children when deciding whether or not to award custody or visitation rights to grandparents. In some states, the law clearly describes the acts to be considered when determining the best interests of the child. In states where the law does not specifically describe the factors, the courts generally interpret the state law on custody and visitation to determine the applicable factors.

Generally the court will consider the following factors:

• The needs and requirements of the child including the emotional and physical health of the child as well as the child’s safety and welfare.

• The ability of the grandparents/parents to meet the needs and requirements of the child.

• The wishes of the grandparents/parents.

• The child’s preferences (in case of older children).

• The nature of the relationship between the child and the grandparents.

• The duration of the relationship.

• Evidence of any neglect or abuse by the grandparents/parents.

• Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse by the grandparents/parents.

• Evidence of substance abuse by the parent(s) or grandparent(s).

• The ability of the grandparents/parents to provide affection, love and contact with the child.

• The distance between the grandparents/parents and the child.

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