Grandparent Rights: State by State

What rights does your home state grant to grandparents?

As a service to our readers, Grandparents.com has established the American Grandparents Association TM , dedicated to ensuring the best for grandparents and their families. One goal of the Association is to become a key resource for grandparents who are physically removed from their grandchildren and would like to find a way to visit them. We are providing this guide to grandparent rights in all 50 states. Should you need specific legal advice on your own grandparent rights, consult a lawyer in your home state who specializes in family law and who may know of any recent changes in your state's laws.

Also see: Your guide to grandparent rights

State Provisions for Custody and Visitation

Grandparents should check a number of provisions in the statutes in their respective states to determine the conditions for visitation, the factors a court must consider to order visitation, and the proper venue to file a request for visitation. Though many state statutes are similar, state courts may apply statutory provisions differently. Every statute requires courts to consider the best interests of the child before awarding custody or visitation to grandparents.

Courts in a number of states have ruled that statutes providing for grandparent visitation violate either the federal or the respective state constitutions. Several states have revised the statutory visitation provisions, but the constitutionality of these statutes may still be in question. If an intermediate appellate court in a particular state has ruled a visitation statute unconstitutional, it does not necessarily render the statute invalid. The provisions of these statutes are included below. However, if a state supreme court or the United States Supreme Court has determined that the visitation statute is unconstitutional, the provisions are not included below.

ALABAMA

Under a new bill passed in 2016, a biological or adoptive grandparent can sue for visitation if the parents’ relationship has been severed by death, divorce, or legal separation, or if a petition for divorce or legal separation has been filed. This new law states that the parents’ decision to deny or reduce visitation is presumed correct. It is the burden of the grandparents to prove that they have a significant and viable relationship with the child and that continuing the relationship is in the child’s best interest. If a grandparent is the primary provider of care to their grandchild or if a grandparent has lived with their grandchild for a period of six months without a parent, this could be considered a qualifying relationship to sue for visitation. If the grandparents has “regular and frequent” contact with a child for at least 12 months and has a “strong and meaningful” relationship with their grandchild, they can also sue for visitation. In order to win visitation rights, grandparents must show that visitation is in fact in the best interest of the child, with “clear and convincing evidence.”

ALASKA

Alaska offers two routes to grandparent separation; asking to join a custody case or or suing for visitation on your own. Determination of grandparent visitation rights must be made in an action for divorce, legal separation, or child placement action, or when both parents have died. In order to grant visitation, grandparents must present the court with clear and convincing evidence showing that visitation with the grandparents is in the child’s best interest, the grandparent has had ongoing contact or has tried to have ongoing contact with the child, and that the parents limiting the grandparent’s visitation is harmful to the child. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption decree provides for visitation between the child and the natural relatives.

ARIZONA

Arizona is one of the states that exempts intact families from grandparent visitation suits. A court may award visitation rights if the child's parents' marriage has been dissolved for at least three months, or the child is born out of wedlock. However, if a the parents of a child born out of wedlock marry, the family is then considered an intact family and is subsequently exempt from these types of suits. When dealing with these types of cases, Arizona courts consider the following factors when determining the best interest of the child: a historical relationship between the grandparent and child, the motivation of the person who filed the suit, the motivation of the person denying visitation, the quantity of time requested and the effect that time will have on the child’s daily activities, and, in the case of death, the benefits of maintaining a relationship with the extended family. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent.

ARKANSAS

The custody statute requires that court grant custody "without regard to the sex of the parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the children." If a parent or guardian has denied visitation as in the best interests of the child, it is up to the grandparent to rebut this claim. Additionally, a grandparent must document a “significant and viable” relationship with the child. If a child lived with a grandparent for six months or more, if a grandparent was the primary caregiver for six months or more or if the grandparent had frequent or regular contact with the child for 12 months or more, then a grandparent’s relationship with a child can be considered “significant and viable. Furthermore, the grandparent must demonstrate “love, affection and guidance” for the child, that a lack of visitation would prove harmful to a child and a willingness to cooperate with the parent or guardian who has custody in order to show that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of the natural grandparents.

CALIFORNIA

Grandparents cannot file for visitation rights in California if the grandchildren are living in an intact family unless specific conditions are met: the parents are living separately, a parent’s whereabouts are unknown for a month or more, the child has been adopted by a stepparent or the child does not live with either parent. A grandparent may also petition for visitation rights if one of the parents joins that petition, if one of the parents of the child is deceased, or if the parents are unmarried. Like many other states, visitation rights are based on a preexisting relationship between the grandparent and child, although California does not require a certain period of time for there to be bond between grandparent and grandchild. The court must also balance visitation with the parents' rights. If both parents agree that the court should not grant visitation to the grandchild, the court will presume that visitation is not in the child's best interests. Adoption does not automatically cut off the visitation rights of grandparents.

COLORADO

Colorado restricts grandparents from suing for visitation if the child lives in an intact family. A court may award visitation rights if the child's parents' marriage has been terminated, legal custody of the child has been given to a third party, the child has been placed outside the home of either of the child's parents, or the grandparent is the parent of a deceased parent of the child. If a parent loses his or her parental rights, the rights of his or her parents, the child’s grandparents, are also lost. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent.

CONNECTICUT

Child visitation rights have been amended in Connecticut to allow visitation to be granted to “any person”, but the person petitioning for visitation must have filled a parental role with a child and must contend that denying them access would cause “real and significant harm” to the child. The court is likely to consider the following elements in determining whether a parent-like relationship has existed: the existence and length of the relationship between the petitioner and the minor child, how long said relationship has been disrupted, the specific activities of the petitioner that were parent-like, any evidence that the petitioner has “unreasonable undermined” parental authority, the absence of a parent from the child’s life, the death of one of the child’s parents, the physical separation of the parents of the child, whether the person seeking visitation is a fitting person, and, finally, whether the custodial parent is fit. Adoption does not automatically cut off the visitation rights of grandparents.

DELAWARE

In Delaware, any non-parent relative can petition for visitation by filling out the required forms found here. After the papers are filed, the case heads to mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will receive a court date. In order to sue for visitation, grandparents must have had a “substantial and positive prior relationship with the child.” Additionally, the parents must either consent to the third-party visitation, the child must be dependent, neglected or abused in the parent’s care, the parent is deceased, or the petitioner has demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence, that the objection of the parents against visitation is unreasonable and that visitation would not interfere substantially with the parent/child relationship. A court may award visitation rights if visitation is in the child's best interest. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

FLORIDA

A new law, put into effect July 1, 2015, allows suits for visitation in an extremely narrow set of circumstances. Grandparents can now sue for visitation if the parents of their grandchild are deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. An additional provision allows for grandparents to sue for visitation if the above conditions apply to one parent and if the other parent has been convicted of a felony or “an offense of violence-evincing behavior that poses substantial threat of harm to the minor child’s health or welfare.” Because of Florida’s strict stance on protecting the privacy of its citizens, courts are weary of interfering with the private decisions of a family, thus making visitation rights very difficult.

GEORGIA

While Georgia did amend its laws to make visitation rights friendlier for grandparents, they still cannot sue if the grandchild is living in an intact family. In order to win visitation rights, a grandparent must show that harm will befall a child if their contact is restricted. The court is directed to assume that it is “reasonably likely” that harm would occur under the following circumstances: the child resided with the grandparent for six months or longer, the grandparent provided financial support for the child’s basic needs for at least one year, the grandparent had established a pattern of visiting the child or providing child care, or other circumstances exist that indicate “emotional or physical harm” would result from a restriction of contact. Additionally, the courts are directed to trust the parents’ judgement on the issue, but to not consider their decision to be “conclusive.” The court is also directed to presume that a child deprived of contact with a grandparent “may suffer emotional injury that is harmful to such child’s health.” Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent or a natural relative of the child.

HAWAII

Hawaii has a statute on the books that does allow for grandparents to sue for visitation with grandchildren. However, a 2007 court case declared that the law is unconstitutional as written and Hawaiian legislatures have yet to update the statute or add an amendment allowing it to hold up in court. Thus, Hawaii is currently without a working grandparents visitation law.

IDAHO

Idaho governs their grandparent visitation rights with one sentence: “The district court may grant reasonable visitation rights to grandparents or great-grandparents upon a proper showing that the visitation would be in the best interest of the child.” However, the courts recognize Idaho law, I.C. § 32-717(3), which reads : “In any case where a child is actually residing with a grandparent in a stable relationship, the court may recognize the grandparent as having the same standing as a parent for evaluating what custody arrangements are in the best interests of the child.” Like many other states, Idaho favors the well being of the child over all other factors. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

ILLINOIS

Grandparents in Illinois as able to sue for visitation, but must meet a long number of stipulations to be granted visitation. In order to sue for visitation, a grandparent must have an “unreasonable denial of visitation” and the child in question must be at least one year old. There is no specificity to the word “unreasonable” in this case. If grandparents can prove this denial of visitation, they fall into one of the two following categories: grandparents seeking visitation because they no longer have access through their own child because their child is either deceased, reported to law enforcement as missing, is legally incompetent or is incarcerated or grandparents whose grandchild has parents involved in a divorce, are divorcing or are separated. A court may not allow visitation to a paternal grandparent if the grandchild was born out of wedlock and paternity has not been established. Next, the grandparent must prove that the denial of visitation has caused the child “undue mental, physical, or emotional harm.” Grandparents lose the right to visitation if parental rights to a child are terminated or the child is adopted by someone other than a relative.

INDIANA

A court may award visitation rights if either of the child's parents is deceased, the child's parents' marriage has been terminated, or the child was born out of wedlock. For paternal grandparents, paternity must be established. Grandparents may not seek visitation with children in intact families. In addition to considering whether visitation is in the child's best interest, a grandparent must show that he or she has had, or attempted to have, meaningful contact with the grandchild. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent or a natural grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew of the child.

IOWA

In Iowa, grandparents can only petition for visitation if the grandparent’s child who is the parent of the grandchild is dead. Furthermore, grandparents must overcome three obstacles to obtain visitation rights. First, like most states, grandparents must prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Next, they must prove there is a “substantial relationship” between the grandchild and the grandparent that predates the filing of the petition. Lastly, they must show that the parent is unfit to deny them visitation or that the parent’s judgement has been impaired. If the grandchild is adopted by someone other than a stepparent, a grandparent loses all visitation rights.

KANSAS

Visitation rights depend upon the grandparent and grandchild having a prior relationship and showing that continued contact with grandparent is within the theist interests of the child. In the case of a divorce, the case will be heard in the county where the divorce was finalized, no matter how old the divorce case is. If no case involving divorce, custody or paternity is present, you can still sue for visitation but this process is much more complex and will likely require a lawyer. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparents unless the grandparent is the parent of a deceased parent and the surviving parent's spouse adopts the child.

KENTUCKY

A court may award visitation rights if visitation would be in the child's best interest. Kentucky is one of the few states that allows grandparents to sue for visitation if the grandchild lives in an intact family. Grandparents may also win visitation rights even if their son or daughter, the father or mother of the child in question, had his or her parental rights terminated.A court may award a grandparent the same visitation rights as a parent without custody if the grandparent's child is deceased and the grandparent has provided child support to the grandchild. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent, and the grandparent's child has not had his or her parental rights terminated.

LOUISIANA

A court may award visitation rights if the child's parent is deceased or declared legally incompetent, a grandparent is the parent of the deceased or incompetent parent to the grandchild, and visitation is in the child's best interest. Grandparents can also be awarded visitation in “extraordinary circumstances”, such as if the court determines that “a parent is abusing a controlled dangerous substance.” Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents except in circumstances where the grandparents are the parents of a deceased party to the marriage or the parents of a party who has forfeited his or her rights to object to the child's adoption.

MAINE

In Maine, grandparents’ rights are detailed in the Grandparent Visitation Act. These rights are based on one of the child’s parents being deceased or on the grandparent having a “sufficient existing relationship” with their grandchild. If a grandparent does not have that type of relationship with their grandchild, but has made a “sufficient effort” to establish such a relationship, grandparents can still sue for visitation. The court will consider multiple factors when hearing visitation cases, including the age of the child, the grandparent-child relationship the preference of the child, the child’s current living arrangements, the stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child, the motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance, the child’s adjustment to the existing situation, the capacity of the parent and grandparent to cooperate in child care, the willingness of both parties to resolve disputes and any other factor impacting the physical and psychological well-being of the child. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

MARYLAND

Maryland statutes use a single sentence to grant “reasonable visitation” to a grandparent if it is in the best interest of the child. This statute does not explicitly determine what the best interests of the child are, so justices made decisions on a case by case basis. But after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Troxel v. Granville decision in 2000, which stated that there is a presumption that fit parents make decisions that are in the best interests of their children and it is on the grandparents to overcome this presumption, everything changed. Now, it is up to the grandparents to prove parental unfitness or an exceptional circumstance that calls for grandparent visitation. Despite recognizing that this statute is badly flawed, and lawmakers introducing bills to revise the statute in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016, a clarification of these laws have failed to come out of committee.

MASSACHUSETTS

Filing for visitation rights in Massachusetts is an uphill battle for grandparents. They may not file if the grandchild is living in an intact family. But grandparents can petition for visitation rights if the parent’s are divorced or separated, if a parent is deceased or if the child was born out of wedlock and paternity was established. The court must consider the best interest of the child, but the statute provides no factors to determine what is best. The grandparent must also prove that the grandchild would suffer harm if contact was denied. A grandparent can begin the process by filling out an “Affidavit of Care and Custody” form and filing a complaint, describing the nature of their relationship with the grandchild, explain why contact was denied or restricted, describe their current access to the grandchild and to explain the “significant harm” that would come of the child resulting from a lack of contact. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent.

MICHIGAN

Michigan courts can award visitation, called “grandparenting time,” to grandparents if the parents of the grandchild are divorce, separated or have had their marriage annulled, or if such an action is pending. A grandparent can also receive grandparenting time if a parent is deceased or if the child’s parents are unmarried and do not live together but paternity has been established. In the case of unmarried parents, parental grandparents can only seek visitation if the father provided “substantial and regular support or care.” If a grandparent has taken on a parental role for an extended period of time, they can also file for visitation. In order to win visitation rights, grandparents must prove a denial of visitation would result in “a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health” and that visitation is in the best interests of the child. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent.

MINNESOTA

There are three separate situations in which Minnesota grandparents can file for visitation. First, if the child’s parent is deceased, the parent’s parents may seek visitation. Second, a grandparent can request visitation rights during or after a divorce, separation, custody proceedings, annulments and paternity proceedings. Third, if a grandchild has lived with a grandparent for a least a year and was then removed from the grandparent’s home by the child’s parent, a grandparent can petition for visitation. In all three scenarios, the court considers the best interest of the child, if visitation would interfere with the relationship between the parent and the child, and the amount of time the grandparent has spent with a child. Adoption cuts off visitation rights unless the adopting party is a stepparent.

MISSISSIPPI

Grandparents can sue for visitation if they are the parents of the non-custodial parent, the parents of a parent whose parental rights have been terminated or the parent of a deceased parent. A grandparent who does not find themselves in the above circumstances still can petition for visitation with proof that there is a “viable” grandparent-grandchild relationship and that they have been unreasonably denied visitation. In order to prove a “viable” relationship, grandparents must provide part or all of a child’s financial support for at least six months and must have had frequent visits with the child, including occasional overnight visits. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption is granted someone related to the child by blood or marriage.

MISSOURI

A court may award visitation rights if the child's parents have filed for divorce, one parent is deceased and the other parent has unreasonably denied visitation to the grandparent, the grandchild has lived with the grandparent for at least six of the the 24 months prior to filing this petition, or when a parent or parents unreasonably deny visitation to a grandparent for more than 90 days. If a child is part of an “intact family”, a grandparent may not sue for visitation rights. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent, another grandparent, or a blood relative.

MONTANA

Grandparents can petition for visitation rights regardless of the status of the child’s parents. In order to receive visitation rights, a grandparent must present “clear and convincing evidence” of an unfit parent. Grandparents can also win visitation rights if they can provide the court with “clear and convincing evidence” that contact is in the best interest of the child. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent or another grandparent.

NEBRASKA

A court may award visitation rights if at least one parent is deceased, the parents' marriage has been dissolved or a petition for dissolution has been filed, or the child is born out of wedlock and paternity has been established. Grandparents cannot petition for visitation if the child lives in an intact family. Secondly, grandparents must demonstrate that a beneficial relationship exists between themselves and the grandchild and that visitation is in the child's best interest. Visitation cannot interfere with the parent-child relationship. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

NEVADA

A court may award visitation rights if the child's parents are deceased, the child's parents are divorced or separated, or one of the child's parents have had his or her parental rights terminated. The child's parent or parents must have unreasonably restricted visitation between the grandparent and grandchild before a court may award visitation to a grandparent. If a child's parent or parents has denied or unreasonably restricted access to a grandparent, a court will presume that visitation is not in the child's best interest. Adoption cuts off all rights of grandparents unless grandparents request visitation before the termination of the parental rights of the child's parent or parents.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

A court may award visitation rights if the child's parents are divorced or have filed for divorce, one of the parents is deceased, one of the parents has had his or her parental rights terminated, or the child has been born out of wedlock, if the child has been legitimated. Adoption cuts off all rights of grandparents.

NEW JERSEY

A court may grant visitation rights if visitation is in the child's best interest. Adoption cuts off the rights of grandparents, unless adoption is granted to a stepparent. Note that a New Jersey Court of Appeals in 2001 ruled the New Jersey statute providing grandparental visitation unconstitutional.

NEW MEXICO

A court may grant visitation rights if the child's parents are divorced, separated, or deceased. Visitation rights may also be granted if the child is over six years old, lived with the grandparent for more than six months, and was subsequently removed from the grandparent's home (if the child is under six, the residence requirement is reduced to three months). Adoption cuts off the rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent, a relative of the child, a caretaker designated in a deceased parent's will, or a person who sponsored the child at a baptism or confirmation.

NEW YORK

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for determining the best interest of the child. A court may grant visitation rights if at least one of the child's parents is deceased or if the court finds that equity demands intervention based on the circumstances of the case. Adoption does not automatically cut off the visitation rights of grandparents. Note that a New York appellate court in 2001 ruled the New York statute providing grandparental visitation unconstitutional.

NORTH CAROLINA

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for determining the best interest of the child. A court may grant visitation rights as part of an order determining custody of the child. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent or a relative of the child, where the grandparent proves that a substantial relationship exists between the grandparent and grandchild.

NORTH DAKOTA

A court must grant visitation rights unless the court determines that visitation would not be in the child's best interest. The amount of contact between the child, the grandparent, and the parent are factors to be considered when determining the child's best interest. Adoption cuts off the rights of grandparents, unless visitation was granted prior to the adoption.

OHIO

A court may grant visitation rights if the child's parents are deceased, divorced, separated, were parties to a suit for annulment or child support, or were never married to one another. Grandparents must show they have an interest in the child's welfare. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent.

OKLAHOMA

A court may grant visitation rights if visitation is in the child's best interest. The statute provides special rules when the child is born out of wedlock. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless the grandparents can show a previous relationship existed between them and the grandchild, and visitation is in the child's best interest.

OREGON

Determination of grandparent visitation rights include consideration of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, as well as the relationship between the parent and child. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

PENNSYLVANIA

A court may grant visitation if at least one of the child's parents is deceased, the parents are divorced or separated for more than six months, or the child has lived with the grandparent for more than 12 months. Determination of grandparent visitation must include consideration of the best interest of the child, potential interference with the parent-child relationship, and the contact between the grandparent and grandchild. Adoption cuts off visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent or grandparent.

RHODE ISLAND

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for determining the best interest of the child. Determination of grandparent visitation must include consideration of the relationship of the grandparent and grandchild, including the best interest of the child. Courts may also grant visitation if the child's parents are divorced or the parent who is the child of the grandparent is deceased. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights.

SOUTH CAROLINA

A court may grant visitation if one parent is deceased, or the parents are divorced or separated. The court must consider the relationship between the grandparent and the child, as well as the parent and the child. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

SOUTH DAKOTA

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for a court to determine proper custody. A court may grant visitation if one parent is deceased, or the parents are divorced or separated. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent or grandparent of the child.

TENNESSEE

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled a previous version of the Tennessee grandparent visitation statute unconstitutional.

TEXAS

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for a court to determine proper custody. Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include a determination that one of the child's parents is deceased, incompetent, incarcerated, or has had his or her parental rights terminated. Visitation may also be awarded if the parents are divorced, the child has been abused or neglected, the child has been adjudicated a delinquent or in need of supervision, or the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months within 24 months of the filing of the petition for visitation. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparent unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent.

UTAH

Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include whether a parent is deceased, or whether the parents are divorced or separated. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

VERMONT

Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include consideration of whether a parent is deceased, incompetent, or whether the child has been abandoned. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents unless the adoption is granted to a stepparent or a relative of the child.

VIRGINIA

Determination of grandparent visitation is made during a suit for dissolution of the marriage of the child's parents. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

WASHINGTON

The United States Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville ruled the Washington grandparent visitation statute is unconstitutional.

WEST VIRGINIA

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for a court to determine proper custody. Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include consideration of whether a parent is deceased, the child has resided with the grandparent and subsequently was removed by a parent, or the grandparent in several circumstances has been denied visitation by a parent. Adoption cuts off all visitation rights of grandparents.

WISCONSIN

Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include consideration of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. Visitation may also be permitted if one of the child's parents is deceased. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a stepparent.

WYOMING

The custody statute does not provide statutory factors for a court to determine proper custody. Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include consideration of the child's best interest and the impairment of the rights of the parents.

Source: Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, © Gale Cengage. All Rights Reserved.

 

Comments

I am in Ohio. My grandson lived with me for his first three years of life. My daughter recently severed all ties with me due to me standing up to her psychological abuse towards me, and now I can no longer visit or see my three grandchildren. They live in Dayton and I am in Columbus. Is there ANYTHING I can do to get court ordered visitation rights to see them. It is causing my two oldest grandchildren and me heartache and pain. Is there any help for me?

Heartbroken grandma on 2013-12-06 20:30:13

what agency in my area would i contact to find out what my rights are as far as getting visitation of my grandaughter. i was her care-giver for the last 4 months and because of my daughter she is now under the care of cys. she is refusing to grant my husband and myself visitation out of spite and i need to know whre to beging i wnat to do everything legal . i would hire a lawyer but we are both on ss and can not afford one. we miss our grandaughter terribly and we don't want her to forget us. we live4 in Temple, Pa i hope you can guide me inthe right direction. Thank you for listeninhg my e-mail is bonnikosla94
@aol.com

bonnikoala94 on 2013-09-18 12:28:26

I'm in Ohio, where grandparents need to insist on improved legal rights, though I do not know how. In 2001 my son ended an engagement to a cheating female. She'd bragged that she was pregnant, a month after they parted ways, but claimed to be "sure" it was the other guy's, based on (limited) weeks along in pregnancy. Some seven years later she shows at our residence unexpected. The other guy, by then her husband, was in prison over drugs. Her mother was dying. She told me that it was "possible" that my son had fathered her daughter, then soon after began allowing us to bring the child, and her younger brother home with us for regular visits. Based on what the child told me in 2009, the mother had also told her that my son could be her father; yet had forbidden us to discuss the matter with the child (not that we would have without verification) provided we wanted continued visits. The mother said she would cooperate with assisting us in legal paternity testing once her situation (dying mother, funeral, ect.) improved. That was completely understandable and we remained patient.

But the more involved with the children we became, the more we realized that they were in an unstable home situation, surrounded by adult drug / alcohol abuse, and neglect and abuse. There were times when we had them for extended periods, not just the weekends, and there was a point when they became homeless if we had not taken them in to live with us temporarily. In addition to feeding them while in our care, we were buying groceries, at first, for their home - just to be sure food was available for them at home. We bought them cloths and toys, and took them out to have fun. We came to love them so much. And they came to love us, as well, choosing on their own to call us "pappaw" and "mammaw".

The mother was always off and running with her boyfriend, and was abusing drugs, no doubt now. She left the children with substance abusing sitters, which left to child endangerment charges. But the legal system is slow, and too forgiving to neglectful parents. I'd helped the mother find housing for the children in the latter part of 2009, but she was quickly evicted. Next I knew, she'd up and moved in with her husband, who was apparently released (again) from prison, despite that she had the boyfriend. Next I knew after that, the mother contacted me to inform me that the children were in state custody.

I immediately called the involved caseworker, and my son joined our phone conversation. We both reported having a loving bond with both children, and that one of the children, the little girl, was more than likely my son's biological daughter. We made it clear that we were interested in a homestudy for possible temporary placement with our family. But the caseworker largely blew us off, claiming that she was only obligated, legally, to deal with the parents named on the children's birth certificates. But how does that fulfill the obligation to FIRST attempt to place foster children with next of kin in the event that parents do not comply with court requirements, so loose permanent custody?

The caseworker claimed it was up to the mother to request a homestudy for temporary placement with my family, and the mother told me she would make that request. But the mother only played cruel games. Because instead, as we would later learn through court testimony, she'd told the caseworker that she had no one willing or able to take the children. Further, for nearly two years after the children were in temporary state custody, the mother refused to include us on her "contact list" so that we could attend (some) visits with the children (along with her). It was not until after the mother informed me that she'd been served the Motion to terminate parental rights that, she finally offered and arranged that my family could attend (what would be our last) visits with the children. That, provided we gave her transportation to those visits - which we did for the sake of the children, as their mother had missed a huge number of visits with them already.

Just before the court hearing began in late 2011, the mother finally admitted to 3 children's services agents, and to her court-appointed attorney, that my son could be the little girl's father (just as we had been claiming all along) and that we needed legal paternity testing, as we had long been after her to cooperate with that testing, but she never had. I have at least read, or heard, that at that point the caseworkers and attorney were "required" legally to inform the presiding Judge. But they refused. And not only did they refuse, but they caused us to be fearful of speaking up, as they claimed that it would "only anger the Judge" if the matter were to be brought to his attention.

All during that time there were tragic things happening within our family. Our newborn granddaughter was born with CDH, a very rare condition where organs of the lower abdomen enter into the chest, and prevent proper lung development, and even cause heart damage. You don't leave the crib-side of an infant in such condition, and survival is a day by day prayer. It was nearly a year before we would bring baby home, and even then on machines, oxygen, meds, and with a feeding tube. With therapists, and a home health nurse supporting us several times weekly, and for more than a year and a half; in fact, we still have nurse visits for little one, now 3. We cared for baby in shifts, as she required non-stop monitoring.

Not bad enough? During that time my husband had to take medical retirement after coming down ill. More, my father passed away after months of illness, and on the day of his funeral visitation I had to choose between attending it, or being at another court hearing for the children; I was at the hearing, of course, as my father would have wanted that, I knew.

Situations change, and it became impossible for my husband and I to take the children into our home. But being unable, and being unwilling, are two different things. The all-or-nothing situation that currently exists in Ohio were foster / adopted out children are concerned hardly serves THEIR BEST INTEREST. I have recordings of the children sneaking phone calls to me, asking us to come and get them, declaring their love for us. Yet these grandparents and grandchildren are another case of wrongful separation, and possibly for life.

By the time one reaches grandparent age they've likely worked all their adult life, and likely have health issues. Sometimes to the extent that it prevents them from caring for a cherished grandchild that needs them (at least in their life). So why can't there at least be visitation in cases where grandparents are deemed fit, even after adoption? What is wrong with Ohio law makers that they cannot see, or do not care, about the harm done to a child when their bond with loving grandparents are severed? To my belief, 'the system' hardly appears to be for the "interest' of the child's well being at all.

MBethTH on 2013-08-16 20:22:36

I'my situation is not unique. My grandson will be 10 in a few weeks. I took guardianship through the court at birth. He has never lived a day outside of our home. Daughter (his mom) has alwashown herself with anger management issues, alcohol issues, (used Cocaine), abused him till we made her leave our home. etc. No attempt at a relationship or desire for one. Just over 2 years ago when she became unstable and told me she thought she was suicidal (she was home alone with 3 small kids that her husband had left her with) After talking to my grandson's biological dad, I approached her about allowing us to adopt the child in our care.

Got ripped apart by my son-in-law - my daughter doesn't have any issues, etc. (all I have heard for 5 years of marraiage at that time was all that was wrong, she couldn't handle being married, etc. etc. etc.

Sooooo.....at her in-laws recommendation, she filed a petition to reverse my guardianship.

We have now been in the court system for 2 years on this. GAL is saying it is not in the child's best interest to be placed in her home. I 'understand' that opinion can change. The child wants to be with us where he has been raised even with my 15 year old daughter. After 10 years, could they actually say it would be in his best interest??

That said, what rights do I push for with regasrds to very liberal visitation and make sure the child is allowed to speak up about it? He currently is lied to, we are lied about when he visits there, etc.

bgray261959 on 2013-07-03 14:40:50

Compatibility Horoscope

How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?

Find out here.