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Can grandparents have visitation rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Child Custody

Sometimes, the divorce or separation of parents can prevent grandparents from seeing their grandchild, whether it is the parents’ intention or brought about by the circumstances surrounding the separation. Fortunately, grandparents have the legal right to petition the court to award them visitation rights to their grandchild. But there are a few things that they must take note of.

Not an automatic right

A child’s grandparents can acquire visitation rights, but the law does not automatically presume the same as it does with parents. If grandparents want guaranteed time to visit their grandchildren, they have to file a request with the family court. Moreover, they must prove certain circumstances for the court to consider their request. Those circumstances are the following:

  • There is an established relationship and constant communication between the grandparent and the grandchild.
  • There are substantial changes in the child’s home after the divorce.
  • If the court does not award visitation rights, it will cause physical or emotional harm to the child.
  • The grandparent visiting and spending time with the child is in the child’s best interest.

These circumstances are not exclusive, and the court can consider other relevant evidence to the case. However, these are the main factors the court considers when deciding on the visitation award.

The child’s best interest

Understandably, most grandparents feel strong ties with their grandchildren. However, even if they think their presence is good for the child, it is still the court’s decision whether grandparents’ visitation is in the child’s best interest. This is why the burden of proof is upon the petitioning grandparents to show the court that their request is justified.