Parents play an integral role in the lives of their children. Courts uphold this precept as paramount, but they also accept and support that other people are also important in children’s lives. Some children are quite bonded to their grandparents, and in these circumstances, the court may grant visitation rights. If you are a grandparent or someone else significant in the lives of a child, you might be wondering if the court will grant visitation rights. By consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney, you can find out how the court might view your request.
Courts operate under the general assumption that children’s physical and emotional needs are best recognized and met by their parents. However, this is not always true, and in these cases, the grandparents or other parties close to the child may want to step in.
There are no federal laws supporting the custody or visitation rights of grandparents, although every state acknowledges the rights of grandparents in one way or another. The closest example of a federal law that deals with grandparents’ rights is the U.S. Supreme Court case Troxel v. Granville. In this case, the court upheld the broad rights of grandparents, but it also required the parent’s preferences to be taken into consideration by the court. It also should not interfere with the fundamental rights of the parents. Of course, if the court determines that the parent is unfit, exceptions will apply. Many grandparents seeking custody or visitation of their grandchildren enlist the services of a family law lawyer to help them.
It is not unusual for grandparents who request visitation rights to receive them. However, the amount of visitation a judge finds fitting can vary. Under Virginia family law, courts can extend visitation rights to any person who has a legitimate interest. This includes not only grandparents but also step-grandparents, prior step-grandparents, blood relatives, and other family members. If you are wondering if you have a legitimate interest, talk to a seasoned family law attorney.
Judges look at many factors when determining if and how much visitation grandparents or other parties should be granted. These include:
Since courts will always uphold what is best for the child, if this type of visitation interferes with a parent-child relationship or does not serve the child’s best interests, it will not be granted.
Pursuing visitation rights as a grandparent or other significant person in a child’s life is a complex endeavor. It is not one that you should pursue on your own. A family law attorney from Mahoney & Richmond, PLLC, can help you determine if you have a case for visitation and represent your interests. Contact us to schedule your family law case review today.