What rights do you as a grandparent have to visitation? The answer, unfortunately, is that you may have very few. Below, however, are a some suggestions to help ensure you get the most time with your grandchild.
• First and foremost, try discussing the matter with the parents of your grandchild. The amount of time and money that can be saved by settling a dispute in a calm and mature manner is invaluable. However, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached on your own, hiring a family lawyer may be the best option.
• Unreasonable denial of visitation. In filing a petition for visitation, you will have to prove to a judge that the parents' denial of your visitation is unreasonable. This claim calls into question the reliability of the parents and must be supported by evidence.
• At least one of several other conditions must be met. These conditions include a deceased, missing, or incarcerated parent; a parent determined incompetent as a matter of law; a child born out of wedlock with parents who do not live together; or a child whose parents are divorced or separated.
• Denial of visitation is harmful to the child. The judge must be convinced that preventing the grandparent-grandchild relationship would be mentally, physically, or emotionally harmful to the child. If the parent making the decisions is deemed a "fit parent", it is naturally assumed by the authorities that her decision regarding grandparent visitation is not harmful to the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. Therefore, you, with the help of your lawyer, are responsible for making it clear that the child would not only benefit from having you involved in her life, but that the lack of grandparent-grandchild relationship is likely to be harmful to the child.
• Preference of the child. The child's wishes will be considered, with respect to her maturity level. This could work to your advantage, or disadvantage, depending on your relationship with your grandchild. If the latter is the case, be prepared to present a strong argument showing why visitation would be in the best interest of the child.
In the battle for visitation rights concerning your grandchild, keep in mind that the best interest of the child is always the most important factor. If you feel as though you are wrongfully denied these visitation rights, you may want to consider hiring a family lawyer to help strengthen your case.
For more information on grandparent visitation, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.