Grandparents’ visitation rights (and the visitation rights of other nonparents) did not exist more than 40 years ago. Visitation rights used to apply to the children’s parents only. Today, every state has created statutes to govern the visitation rights of grandparents and others, such as a foster parent, a caregiver, or a step-parent. These visitation laws allow grandparents and others the legal right to visit a child.
Each state has incorporated statutory guidelines for granting visitation rights to grandparents. The intent of granting grandparent visitation rights is to allow grandparents to maintain contact with grandchildren. In general, two types of laws exist: restrictive visitation statutes and permissive visitation statutes. Restrictive visitation laws only allow grandparents to seek visitation rights when the parents have divorced or if one or both parents are deceased. Most states allow more leeway when granting grandparent visitation. Permissive visitation laws allow a grandparent or another third party to request visitation, even if both parents are alive or still married. In this situation, the court will consider whether the proposed child visitation arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
Because the United States Supreme Court did not make a finding that visitation laws are unconstitutional per se (See Troxel v. Granville.), every state still allows third-party petitioners to seek visitation rights. Many states, particularly those with permissive statutes, consider third-party visitation rights as a privilege that only imposes a slight burden on the parents’ right to control the children’s upbringing. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, many states now give substantial deference to a fit parent’s decision of what is best for his or her child when weighing whether to grant visitation rights.
Broadly speaking, the law provides for visitation rights for grandparents, great-grandparents, and adult siblings of a minor child, subject to court approval. As is the case with most new laws, the courts are still dealing with certain aspects of the new statute, and the application of the law may be further tempered by future case law.
As experienced family law and child custody/physical placement advocates, the attorneys at Missimer Law, S.C. may help you secure your visitation rights and enforce them if needed. To achieve visitation rights, you must first demonstrate access to your grandchild is being unreasonably denied. Then, you must show you already have a positive relationship with your grandchild, which would be harmed if visitation was denied. You may also petition the family court for visitation rights after the death or incarceration of a parent, or after a divorce.
The current law is slightly more restrictive in the provision of grandparents’ rights than the previous statute, and places a greater weight on the custodial parent’s decision. The lawyer must, therefore, present the case for the petitioner in clear and convincing terms.
Attorney Richard Missimer understands how to petition the court for grandparents’ visitation rights and address the court’s concerns. He is a steadfast advocate for grandparents’ rights. He will use the law and the court system to assert and secure your visitation rights, for the benefit of yourself and your grandchild.
At Missimer Law, S.C., our attorneys take great care to provide personalized and knowledgeable legal assistance to our clients in Southeastern Wisconsin. When addressing complicated family law concerns, we keep your best interests in mind. We strive to limit the impact of legal issues on your life, both emotionally and financially, all while working toward the best possible resolution in your specific situation. Contact us for a free initial consultation today.