There are many ways a grandparent may be separated from grandchildren after a divorce is final. One spouse may prevent the other spouse’s relatives from seeing the children, or visits with surviving grandparents may stop after one spouse has died. If visitation is suspended, grandparents can petition the Family Court to seek "reasonable visitation rights" for the grandchild.
Grandparents May Request Visitation Rights
No matter who gets custody of a child after a divorce, it is expected that the child will be able to enjoy access to both parents (unless there is some legal reason the other parent should not interact with the child). However, there is no guarantee that grandparents will be able to visit the grandchildren of a divorced spouse. If a grandparent wishes to ensure visitation of a grandchild after a divorce, he must make an official request through the Family Court.
The Court will consider a few factors in order to determine whether the child should be allowed to visit the grandparent(s), including:
- Whether visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild
- Whether the grandparent is fit and responsible to be granted visitation rights
- Whether the grandparent has attempted to visit the grandchild within the previous 30 days before petitioning, but he was prevented from doing so
- Whether court intervention is the only way the grandparent would reasonably be able to visit the grandchild
- Whether the grandparent has clear evidence that a parent’s decision to refuse visitation was not reasonable
Once the Court grants visitation rights to the grandparent, it can also take action to enforce the visitation rights if the parent is unwilling to accept the ruling. In addition, the law requires that any further custody or visitation petitions be provided to all parties that have been granted visitation. This allows grandparents to remain a presence in the child’s life unless the Court issues an order removing visitation rights.
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