When it comes to arguing about custody and visitation rights that involve a child, the arguments usually revolve around the child's parents. In some cases, however, these disputes may involve whether or not a grandparent is able to have visitation rights or access to their grandchild.
While you may think that a grandparent would have a natural right to see their grandchildren, this is not always the case. The law states that they do not have an automatic right to see their children and in most cases, it is left up to the discretion of the parents as to whether or not they wish for the grandparents to be involved in their child's life. This can become a troubling issue for grandparents, particularly if their adult child is angry at them or their child dies and the remaining parent no longer wishes for the grandparents to have contact.
Although the court generally sides with the parents, this does not mean that a grandparent is completely without rights. They can, in fact, ask for custody or access to the child. If they wish to get custody of the child, they must actually petition the court and ask for permission to make application for custody. As of September 1, 2014, however, grandparents do not have to ask for permission if they wish to apply to the court for access to the child.
Once an application has been made, the court will then work to determine what the best interests are for the child. The court will also take into account the willingness of the parents to allow the grandparents access to the child and whether an actual court order is needed to grant them access.
Grandparents who are seeking custody or access to their grandchildren may find valuable information about the custodial process on our website.