Understanding Grandparents’ Rights to Visitation and Custody
January 20, 2017 | Hensley Legal Services
While a divorce is going to primarily impact the couple divorcing and their children, it will also have a significant effect on other family members. Grandparents, for example, may not be able to see their grandchildren nearly as much after a divorce if their son or daughter doesn’t get custody of the kids. This can be a significant hardship on the grandparents, as well as the children. Since Oklahoma courts always make an effort to put the best interests of the children first, they can grant grandparents visitation rights in some instances.
Right to Maintain a Relationship
The courts are typically willing to step in to help protect the right to a relationship for both the grandparents and the grandchildren. In many cases, grandparents are very involved in the children’s lives, so cutting off that relationship can be very distressing to everyone involved. If one of the parents attempts to do this, the grandparents can petition the court for visitation rights in order to help preserve the relationship.
Petition for Custody
If both of the parents of the children are unfit to provide the care they need, grandparents can petition the courts to step in and obtain primary physical and legal custody of the children. This is quite rare, but in extreme cases it can be seen as the best option. Courts are more likely to allow grandparents to step in and gain custody than to have the kids live in a foster home. If one of the parents is able to provide the care the kids need, however, grandparents will almost never gain custody.
Request Mediation or Arbitration
In some situations it can be possible to work out an agreement with one or both of the parents without going to court. Using a mediator or arbitrator is quite common in a divorce, and the same strategies can be used by grandparents to attempt to gain visitation rights. Having a third party working with you can be quite effective. They can often propose additional ideas or options, such as having both parents agree to use the grandparents as their first choice for babysitters. There are many great ways to come to agreements outside the courtroom, if all parties are willing to work together.
Seeking Visitation from Out of State
If the grandparents live in another state from the children, it can present some serious challenges to seeking visitation. First of all, the grandparents must petition the courts in the state where the child lives, so they would have to be available to go to any court dates to argue their case. In addition, the courts are not very likely to require parents to transport their children this far for visitation. There are situations, however, where something can be worked out where the children could spend a set amount of time with the grandparents in the summer, for example, so all hope should not be lost.
Discuss with an Attorney
If you would like to pursue visitation rights for your grandchildren, the first step is to always speak with an attorney. Please contact Hensley Legal Services to go over your situation and all your options. We’ll be happy to let you know what can be done, and give you honest feedback about the chances you’ll have of winning your case.
Hensley Legal Services
427 South Boston Ave
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
Tel: (918) 398-5692
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