Grandparents' Visitation and Custody

Grandparents’ Visitation and Custody: Background

Grandparents in each state across the US have rights, in some cases, to be granted custody of their grandchildren or to be granted court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Their rights don’t come from the Constitution, nor did they exist conventionally. Acknowledgement of grandparents’ rights by state government is a somewhat recent movement, and most of the laws awarding these rights have been in force for less than forty years.

Fundamentals of Grandparent’s Visitation Rights

The primary concept of allowing grandparents visitation rights is that their grandchild(ren) needs them, and other relatives, in their lives to develop to be healthy adults. Grandparent’s visitation statutes typically expand visitation rights to other relatives, additionally, including brothers and sisters. When this is the circumstance, it may be referred as “3rd party visitation rights” or “non-parent visitation rights.”

Non-parents’ visitation rights are most common when a child’s immediate family is no longer complete. Often, this means that parents have got a divorce, and the child would benefit from having their grandparents in their lives, even when the child’s custodial parent doesn’t agree. In other cases, non-parent visitation rights are awarded when a child gets adopted or placed in foster care. The court is more likely to award non-parent visitation should the child being adopted or is in foster care, since the child’s biological parents’ wants are not in dispute.

Applying for Grandparent Visitation Rights

When a non-parent petitions a court for visitation rights, they must prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests. When establishing if visitation rights are fitting, courts consider several factors, including:

  • The child’s relationship with the non-parent;
  • The relationship among the non-parent and the child’s parent(s) or guardian;
  • The most recent time the child was in contact with the non-parent;
  • The impact the visitation is going to have on the relationship among child and legal guardian;
  • How grandparent visitation is going to affect the time the child has to visit with their biological parents or other family members;
  • Any record of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse or disregard by the non-parent; and
  • Any other aspect that the court deems is relevant to awarding or denying non-parent visitation rights.

Federal Law

Federal law may impact grandparents’ rights, however, these rights are based mainly on state law. Congress approved the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act in nineteen eighty, in which necessitates that each state gives total faith and credit to child custody orders from other states. Federal law approved in nineteen ninety-eight also requires that courts in each state accept and impose grandparental visitation decrees from other states courts.

Each state has accepted a version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA, formally the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act), which requires courts in the state where a child lives to accept and enforce legitimate child custody decrees from another state. Though the UCCJEA isn’t a federal law, the conditions of this uniform law as accepted in each state are comparable.

Constitutionality of State laws

A lot of courts have come to the decision that state laws giving grandparents visitation are unconstitutional. In 2000 the US Supreme Court in the case of Troxel v. Granville came to the determination that the Washington visitation law was in violation of the due process rights of parents to bring up their children. Their case and likewise decisions by state courts was the cause of a lot of state legislatures to think about bills that would alter or totally amend the visitation rights in those states.

Most state laws associated to grandparent rights, nevertheless, have lived on. However, grandparents that seek to acquire visitation rights should verify with the present status of the law in their corresponding states.

Discover More Concerning Grandparents’ Visitation and Custody Rights from an Attorney

For this reason, federal and state laws are starting to acknowledge the important role that grandparents could play in their grandchild’s life. On the other hand, these rights, and the process used to enforce them can vary among the states. Fortunately, you can get a hold of a child custody attorney near you that can counsel you on the laws in your state and champion for your interests.


  1. Grandparents’ visitation and custody: Background. Findlaw. (2018, February 3). Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

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