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Unless a grandparent has secured a court order granting them visitation, a parent is under no legal obligation to allow a grandparent to see their grandchild. In fact, barring a court order, a parent has the constitutional right to say no. If a court order has been granted, a parent will need to file a petition with the family court to modify or revoke a grandparent visitation order to stop the visitation. This matter can be more complicated if separated parents have differing views regarding whether the other grandparents should be allowed visitation.
Every grandparent visitation case will depend on the specific facts and state law. In many states, grandparent visitation is only permitted if parents divorce, or one or both parents die. However, in most states, courts will consider grandparent visitation even if both parents are alive, married, and generally good parents. Like all family court matters involving children, a judge is going to make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child.
Preventing Grandparent Visitation
If a court has already ordered grandparent visitation, or a grandparent is seeking visitation through the courts, and a parent wants to prevent that visitation, they may need to convince the court that the visitation is not in the best interest of the child. Although having a relationship with a grandparent would naturally always seem to be in the best interest of a child, under many circumstances it is not.
If grandparents are undermining a parent's authority, ignoring important rules (such as allergies), are not healthy enough, or have other issues that put a grandchild at risk, these factors will weigh in favor of denying visitation. Additionally, courts may factor in whether a grandparent has, or had, an existing relationship with the grandchild, and how long that relationship has been ongoing, and if the child is old enough, what they want. Furthermore, the court may consider tangential issues, such as whether the child is adjusting well to a new school, home, or location.
Constitutional Right to Parent
While nearly every state has specific rules on grandparent visitation and will order (and deny) it according to those rules, the US Supreme Court has found these laws to be unconstitutional. Essentially, SCOTUS found that any state law conferring a grandparent, or nonparent, rights over the objection of a parent, absent parental abuse, is a violation of the constitutional right to parent your own child.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.