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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Grandparents getting custody, even visitation, not a given

Regular readers of this blog will recall that blood links to a child don't necessarily mean that grandparents will get custody of that child if both parents should happen to die. We wrote about this not long ago.

As we noted then, while tradition and perhaps common sense might lead some to conclude grandparents should be the default choice when deciding where an orphaned child should be placed, that's not always the way it works. The law provides a road map for the courts on how to rank relations in making decisions about child custody and visitation where grandparents are concerned.

Just as there is no guarantee of custodial rights for grandparents, there is no statutory guarantee of visitation rights. Rather, it's the job of the courts to determine whether granting visitation to grandparents would be in the best interests of a child.

That is the standard if formal and structured visitation rights are sought. However, it might not be necessary to go to court in every situation. If you are the parents of divorcing parents and you have good relations with one or both of them, that may be all the foundation that's required for grandparent visitation.

If just one parent grants permission, visits with the grandchildren could be possible at any time. In one scenario, one parent might have primary custody of the child and the other might have visitations on some set schedule. Even if the child is with the second parent, that adult can give the grandparents permission to visit and it should be OK.

That said, any permission granted by either parent doesn't override the custody rules set down by the court and grandparents have an obligation to honor those provisions. Where questions might exist, parents and grandparents should seek the input of an experienced family law attorney.

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