Regardless of how close their relationship may be, grandparents and non-parents have no legal rights to their non-biological children. However, those who have a close, family-like relationship with a child can obtain court-ordered visitation. Recent court rulings have made it easier for grandparents to prove their close relationship to the child. Other court rulings, however, grant a presumption that a biological parent acts in the child’s best interest. Therefore, the parent’s wishes must be given “special weight.” If the parent does not wish the grandparent to have contact with a child, the parent’s wishes are assumed to be valid. The grandparent must show that their contact with the child is important enough to overcome the parent’s wishes.
Although visitation is most commonly requested by grandparents, stepparent visitation with stepchildren is becoming increasingly common. Stepparent visitation is often requested when a parent in the military is deployed for a long period of time. If the stepparent has played a consistent and important role in the child’s life, it may be upsetting to the child to suddenly end that contact.
This visitation usually comes over the parent’s objection, so the burden is high and it is important to establish the necessary requirements of the relationship. It is heartbreaking for a grandparent or close non-parent to be cut out of a child’s life. It can also be traumatic for the child. We will help you maintain your close and deserved bond with your grandchild.