Grandparent Visitation and Custody Requirements
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Grandparent Visitation and Custody Requirements

Grandparent’s visitation rights have been acknowledged in every state for the past forty years. The primary purpose of these rights is to guarantee that a child has access to the emotional and developmental advantages of having their grandparents in their lives. The custody rights of them can be utilized when the child’s parents can no longer adequately care for their child or if they’ve passed away or are imprisoned.

The below post gives a general overview of grandparent visitation rights across the country, although the specifics differ by state.

Grandparent Custody Requirements

Statutory regulations for child custody (referred to “conservatorship” in a couple of states when it is someone other than the child’s parents) are somewhat less specific than the stipulations considering grandparent visitation. Courts are required to first consider the relationship of the parent and/or parents with the child prior to considering if it might be appropriate to grant custody to grandparents. A lot of states specifically include considerations for grandparents as custodians when both parents have passed away.

If either or both parents are still living, courts in many states are going to presume that the child’s parents should retain custody. Grandparents are required to generally prove the parent is incompetent to persuade the court that the child needs to be placed with them. Even when the relationship between the grandchild and grandparent is enduring, it’s generally very challenging for a grandparent to get custody of their grandchild against the child’s parent’s wishes.

Grandparent Visitation Requirements

Grandparents usually have to meet certain conditions prior to them being awarded visitation. The marital standing of the parents is required to be considered in most states prior to a court evaluating the relevant aspects to establish if visitation is fitting.

Some states, the parent’s marital standing is taken into consideration only if the grandparents have been refused visitation by the child’s parents. In other states, marital standing is considered only if the grandchild lived with their grandparents for a specific amount of time.

A few of the states require that at least one parent has passed away, a court can grant visitation to the parent of the deceased parent of the child. For instance, a maternal grandparent in one of those states might be granted visitation only if the mother of the child has passed away.

In each state, grandparents must show that granting visitation to their grandchild is in their grandchild’s best interest. A lot of states also necessitate that the court take into consideration of the previous relationship between the grandparent and their grandchild, the impact grandparental visitation is going to have on the relationship between the parent and their child, and/or a demonstrating of harm to the grandchild if visitation is forbidden.

Impact of Adoption on Grandparent’s Visitation Rights

State regulations differ in their handling of cases in which a grandchild has been adopted. In a lot of states, adoption by another person, including stepparents or other grandparents, ceases the grandparent’s visitation rights.

In many states, adoption by a stepparent or another grandparent doesn’t cease visitation rights, but adoption by another person ceases their visitation rights. In other states, adoption doesn’t impact the grandparent’s visitation rights, provided that other lawful requirements are fulfilled.

Discover More Concerning Your Rights as a Grandparent from an Attorney

A lot of grandparents would do anything to have more time to spend with their grandchildren, however, family relationships can get complex. A lot of states acknowledge the rights of grandparents to visit with their grandchildren, with the assumption that it’s in the child’s best interest. Find out how this could affect your family by contacting an experienced family law attorney near you.


  1. Staff, F. L. (2021, December 29). Grandparent visitation and custody requirements. Findlaw. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from

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