Divorce can affect more than just the divorcing couple. Children, friends, and other family members are also affected by the ripples of a divorce. Specifically, grandparents can face the potential loss of access to their grandchildren. What actions can grandparents take to see their grandchildren?
Do Grandparents Have Any Rights to See Their Grandchildren?
Legally, grandparents can only sue for visitation rights in very specific circumstances. According to MO Revised Statute § 452.402, courts may grant grandparents visitation rights if they have been unduly denied visitation for over 60 days and:
- the child’s parents are getting divorced. In these instances, grandparents can file during or after the divorce proceedings for visitation privileges.
- one parent has restricted visitation after the death of the other parent.
- the child lived with the grandparents for at least 6 months (within the 24 months before they filed for visitation).
In any family law case involving a child, the child’s best interest takes precedence. Court-ordered visitation will only be granted if the visitation best benefits the child.
In some cases, the child may be asked what their wishes are. The child may also have a court-appointed guardian that acts in their best interest.
It is also important to note that if a child is adopted (by someone who is not a blood relative or stepparent), their grandparent’s right to visitation may be terminated. In this case, you would need permission from the adoptive parents. Also, grandparents cannot file for visitation if the parents are legally married and live together with the child—even if they have been denied visitation.
Can a Parent Deny a Grandparent Visitation?
If the grandparents do not have court-ordered visitation rights, parents can deny them access and visitation. However, if the grandparents have legal visitation rights, parents cannot disobey or ignore court orders. To nullify the orders, parents would need to file a petition to modify or revoke visitation rights with the courts.
Filing for Visitation Rights as a Grandparent
To gain legal visitation rights, grandparents can file a motion for Grandparent Visitation Rights.
Before going to court, you may also consider asking the parents to consider mediation. A request for mediation should also be filed with the court.
Before taking any legal actions, grandparents should immediately contact a lawyer. Courts tend to trust parents’ judgment on what is best for their child, and grandparents will have to prove that the child would benefit from visitation. A reliable attorney will understand state laws, how to best advise you, and can offer you tailored legal aid.
Need help getting visitation rights as a grandparent? At Kallen Law Firm, LLC, we have over 45 years of combined experience. Our legal team offers aggressive, client-focused legal support. You can trust our firm to help you navigate the legalities of your case with ease. For a free consultation, contact us online or at (314) 441-7793 today.