Grandparent Rights

Divorce and Family Law

Whatever the reason, whether it’s death, divorce, a falling out, or a tough situation, grandparents often want to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. Sometimes, an event can occur that can complicate a grandparent’s ability to be with or see their grandchildren, but a person doesn’t always have to accept this result as a final outcome. People may be surprised to learn that grandparents can have rights when it comes to their grandchildren. Visitation rights and custody rights are the two major categories for which people inquire when it comes to grandparents and grandchildren.

This page is designed to help you better understand the basics of grandparent rights, including a grandparent’s rights to custody of their grandchildren and a grandparent’s visitation rights when it comes to their grandchildren. This page also details how an attorney may be able to help an individual who is seeking visitation or custody of their grandchildren or who are just looking for more information about the subject.

Note: Just as with any other legal situation, if a person finds themselves in a situation where they are seeking custody or visitation rights, that individual should not hesitate to contact an attorney. This page details the specifics regarding grandparent rights to custody and visitation in the state of Ohio, and can vary from state to state. This article and its contents are merely for informative purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. For accurate and up-to-date legal advice, an individual should contact an attorney or legal professional.

Grandparent Rights: Custody

When it comes to a grandparent obtaining custody of their grandchildren, there are typically two main ways in which an individual can go about accomplishing this goal. The first way is through a power of attorney, where the parents would basically give permission for the grandparent to gain custody of the grandchildren. The second way is through the courts, and this way is usually sought if the grandchildren are living in a bad environment but the parents do not want to relinquish custody.

Power of Attorney

For a grandparent to obtain a legally binding power of attorney over their grandchildren, that power of attorney must be signed and executed by both parents as long as they are living together, married, or share custody of the children. If only one parent has sole custody, or one of the parents has abandoned their parental right, or if one of the parents cannot be located, the signature of the remaining parent should be enough to create a legally binding power of attorney.

A grandparent’s power of attorney does grant the grandparent the rights and responsibilities concerning custody of the child and to make decisions about schooling and medical needs on their behalf. It does not affect a parent’s rights to any proceedings involving the children, give the grandparent the right to give the child up for marriage or adoption, and it does not actually grant legal custody to the grandparent.

Note: A power of attorney only gives the grandparent the right to decide the custody of the child, it does not actually grant custody of the child to the grandparent.

Motion for Custody

A motion for custody is a much more efficient way for a grandparent to gain custody of their grandchildren, but it is not necessarily easier. In a situation where a grandparent feels that they should have custody of their grandchildren, the grandparent(s) must file a motion for custody with the courts. After they have filed this motion, a custody hearing will most likely be held and the grandparent(s) will have to give cause/show proof why the grandchildren should be living with them instead of with their parent or legal guardian. This usually includes two steps. One, a grandparent must show that the person or persons the grandchild is living with currently are unfit or incapable of appropriately caring for the child. Second, the grandparent will likely have to show why it is in the child’s best interest to live with the grandparent and how it is more beneficial for their well-being.

A custody hearing can be a lengthy and emotional process for everyone involved, and ultimately it is up to the judge at the end of the hearing to decide whether or not the child should remain in the custody of the parents/legal guardians or whether custody should be given to the grandparent. Similarly, it is at the judge’s discretion of whether or not the custody is temporary or permanent.

Both of the above processes are ways that a grandparent can go about to obtain custody of their grandchildren, but it is not necessarily an easy process and can involve a lot of time and money.

Grandparent Rights: Visitation

Grandparents, in most situations, are entitled to visitation rights when it comes to their grandchildren as long as they take the appropriate steps in going about visitation. The first thing a grandparent should do if they are looking to obtain visitation rights to their grandchildren is to file a motion with the court. A grandparent can do this when the parents are unmarried, when the parents seek out a divorce, or when one of the child’s parents has died. After a grandparent has filed a motion with the courts, a hearing will usually take place where the grandparent must show that they have a vested interested in the well-being of the child and that visitation rights would be in the child’s best interest. Because the grandparent is seeking visitation rights and not custody rights, the court will often look at the opinion of the parent(s), the request of the grandparents, and what’s in the child’s best interest in making their determination.

Note: There are circumstances in which a grandparent’s visitation rights can be modified or terminated by the courts. This usually occurs if there is some kind of change in the custody situation related to the child the grandparent has visitation rights to. This can include adoption and if it is in the child’s best interest to terminate the grandparent’s visitation rights. Also, visitation rights do not give the grandparent a right to help decide anything related to the custody or adoption of the child.