3 Things You Need To Know About Grandparents' Rights To Visitation

Most grandparents love nothing more than to spend quality time with their grandchildren. However, that ability is taken away from so many grandparents. It can happen because of a disagreement between a parent and their adult child, but so often it happens because of discord between the two parents of the grandchildren. The good news is there may be a way for you to get visitation rights awarded by the court - no matter what is going on behind the scenes with the parents. Here are three things you need to know about grandparents' rights to visitation.

1. Different states have different criteria they use to determine grandparents' visitation rights.

The biggest thing you have to understand is there are certain criteria that must be met before the court will think about awarding you visitation rights. The problem is that criteria differs from state to state. So, you will need to look up the specific criteria for determining grandparents' rights in your state.

For instance, if you live in the state of Oregon, the court will look very closely at the previous relationship between you and your grandchildren, as well as the relationship between the parent and the child. 

In most cases, the courts will only grant visitation rights to grandparents if it is in the best interest of the child. If you previously enjoyed a very positive and loving relationship with your grandchild, then your chances are better than those of the grandparent who was rarely around.

Keep in mind that some states require the parents of the grandchild to either be divorced or one of them to be deceased or incarcerated before they will consider granting visitation to the grandparents. 

2. Adoption can void your rights as a grandparent - except in certain circumstances.

If your grandchild is placed for adoption, it can prevent you from being able to seek visitation rights. However, there are some exceptions to this. For instance, if the adoptive parents agree to an open adoption, and there is a specific part in the adoption agreement about allowing grandparent visitation, then you can pursue your case. 

Another thing to keep in mind is if you have been serving as the primary caregiver for your grandchild, you could possibly stop adoption proceedings. You can plead to the court that there is no need for your grandchild to be adopted since you already provide a loving home and family for the child. You would just need to be certain that you can, in fact, take care of your grandchild indefinitely.

3. You don't need a lawyer to help you get visitation with your grandchildren.

Oftentimes, grandparents don't seek the court's help with getting visitation rights because they think they have to hire a family attorney. While an attorney can ensure that all of the legal documents are filled out and filed correctly with the court, you can actually do all of that for yourself.

You can file a pro se motion with the court in order to seek visitation with your grandchildren. That means you will fill out the legal forms and file them with the court on behalf of yourself. Of course, you will need to follow the same rules of the court that an attorney does. If you fill out the motion incorrectly or don't file it with the proper office, your case can end up delayed or even dismissed.

If you need help in finding the right legal forms and filling them out correctly, you can contact a legal office such as Novenstern Fabriani & Gaudio, LLP for help. You might even find an attorney in the legal aid office who will represent you in court for free.