Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights During the Holidays?

undefinedThe holidays are a time of year when family connections are prioritized and sought after—however, this spirit of togetherness can be either healing or distressing, depending on the state of your familial relationships.

As a grandparent who has been cut off or pushed out of your grandchild’s life, you may be feeling the sting of family division this holiday season. There’s nothing quite like witnessing the elation of a child on Christmas morning. It’s a contagious energy that reminds us of the importance of the little things in life and missing out on these moments can feel bitter and unfair.

If you feel that you have been wrongly cut off from your grandchild’s life and that being active members in their day-to-day life would enhance their well-being in a positive way, you do have the right to petition the court for non-parent visitation. However, to do so, you must show the court that you have established emotional ties creating an ongoing personal relationship with your grandchild. An “ongoing personal relationship” means a relationship with substantial continuity for at least one year, through interaction, companionship, interplay and mutuality.

However, you will also need to show more than the fact that you have these emotional ties. There is also a presumption by the court that the legal parent is acting in the best interests of the child, and for a court to grant you visitation, they must first determine that this presumption has been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, and that granting this visitation is in the best interest of the child.

In making this decision, the court can look at many factors, including but not limited to these:

  • You are or recently have been the child’s primary caretaker;
  • Circumstances detrimental to the child exist if your request is denied;
  • The legal parent has fostered, encouraged or consented to the relationship between you and the child;
  • Granting relief would not substantially interfere with the custodial relationship; or
  • The legal parent has unreasonably denied or limited contact between the you and the child.

This process can be complex, with many different moving parts and factors that weigh into the decision of the court. Unfortunately, the process of petitioning for visitation rights can take time. Thus, you may not be granted third-party visitation rights with your grandchildren for the upcoming holidays this year unless you and your grandchild’s custodial parent can come to an agreement between yourselves.

We understand how important family relationships are, especially over the holidays. It is our goal to ensure that family dynamics are able to persevere despite difficult legal matters. If you feel that you have a strong case for gaining visitation rights, and that your presence in your grandchild’s life would benefit their overall well-being, call our office today to learn more about this process so that you can start planning for the holidays next year.