When Can a Grandparent Intervene?
There are two ways for grandparents to legally intervene in a custody case, (1) when they are seeking custody of the minor children, and (2) when they are seeking visitation rights when there is already a custody case between the parents.
Grandparents and Custody
Parents have a constitutional right to the exclusive care, custody, and control of their children. If parents have not lost their protected constitutional rights, then the claim will more than likely be dismissed. When grandparents challenge the custody of the child, the grandparents must show that they have a sufficient relationship with the child and they are not strangers to the child. What will be considered a sufficient relationship will be determined by the courts on a case-by-case basis. Once the grandparents have proven there is a sufficient relationship, then the grandparents must claim facts sufficient to prove any of the following: (1) that the parent is unfit, (2) that the parent has neglected the welfare of the child, or (3) that the parent has otherwise acted in a manner inconsistent with their protected status as a parent.
Grandparents and Visitation
Grandparents cannot initiate visitation when the parents are an intact family and there are not ongoing custody proceedings. When there is an ongoing custody dispute between the parents, grandparents may be allowed visitation rights. Grandparents must also show that they have a sufficient relationship with the child. A court will determine if it is in the best interest of the child for the grandparents to have visitation rights. However, if the child has been adopted by parents that are not related to the child and when both biological parents have given up their parental rights, a biological grandparent will not be entitled to visitation rights.
We Can Help
If you are interested in learning more about grandparents’ rights to custody and visitation, contact our office to discuss your specific goals. We are here for you and happy to help!