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Can grandparents have visitation or custody rights?

Families in Maryland could potentially benefit from learning more about the requirements that govern grandparents' visitation and custody rights. When a child is adopted by another individual, the grandparents' visitation rights may be terminated. In some states, the rights are only terminated when the adoptive parent is someone other than another grandparent or a stepparent. There are states that will uphold the grandparents' visitation rights as long as the appropriate statutory requirements are fulfilled.

Most family courts will consider the marital status of the child's parents before making any evaluation concerning visitation rights. Some states consider the marital status of the child's parents when the grandparents have already been denied visitation by the parents. There are states that only consider the marital status of the parents if the child resided with the grandparents for some period of time. In a few states, the law requires a parent to be deceased in order for the decedent's parent to receive visitation rights.

In any case, grandparents are required to prove that receiving visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child. Some states require proof of harm if the visitation is not permitted, but the quality of the relationship is typically a factor worth consideration. Generally speaking, in order for grandparents to assume custody, both parents must be deceased.

People who need more information about family law may benefit from consulting legal counsel. Lawyers may be effective in serving as an intermediary and assisting with negotiating terms of the parenting plan for the child. Legal counsel might also help grandparents gather all of the appropriate documentation in order to help prove that granting visitation or custody is in the child's best interest.

Source: Findlaw, "Requirements for Awarding Grandparent Visitation and Custody", Jan. 12, 2015

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