The area of Grandparents Rights to custody of grandchildren and visitation with their grandchildren is a compelling area of the law. Is it not true that many children have been raised successfully by their grandparents? How many children look to their grandparents for mentoring, guidance, and love…sometimes qualities not received from their own parents?
The law presently favors the “superior rights” of a natural parent over the rights of grandparents. This seems to to be the law in most states, since the US Supreme Court decided a case concerning the constitutional rights of parents to make decisions about their children, to the exclusion of the rest of the family. There are exceptions to this general rule, but the exceptions are narrowly drawn.
There is a 2007 version of the Grandparent Visitation Act:
The new Act sets forth specific factors that the Court should use to determine whether to grant Grandparent Visitation:
1. the preference of the child, if the child is old enough to state a preference;
2. the mental and physical health of the child;
3. the mental and physical health of the person seeking visitation;
4. the length and quality of the relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation;
5. the good faith of the parent and/or the party seeking visitation;
6. the quantity of visitation requested and the potential adverse impact on the family;
7. whether the child resided with the petitioner for at least six consecutive months;
8. whether the petitioner had frequent visitation with the child for at least 12 months;
9. any other factor that establishes that the loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.
A Grandparent must show at the time of filing the petition that there has been an “unreasonable denial of visitation” by the custodial parent.