The Complete Guide to Grandparents' Visitation Rights - RespectCareGivers (2022)

Did you know that grandparents can file for visitation if there is trouble in the marriage? This is a complete guide to grandparents’ visitation rights: how to file them, and under what conditions are they granted.


If there is a separation between a married couple, it can be very hard on the children. Each individual parent may not be able to provide proper care for the child themselves or want grandparents of the other spouse to continue having a relationship with them.

In some cases, new stepparents may not get along with the children or want them to meet their grandparents from the first marriage.

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In such cases, grandparents who have an existing strong bond with the children can file for visitation rights so that they can visit the children and care about their welfare and wellbeing. For this purpose, they can take the help of Grandparent’s visitation rights.

However, as you grow old, the whole process for filing an application in the court for visitation rights can be very complicated and confusing. This article will try to help you understand this process in a simple, step-by-step manner.

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Criteria For The Application

Under US laws, if you are a grandparent and wish to have visitation rights to your grandchildren, you will have to create a visitation application.

The court will look for the following things before approving your visitation rights:-

  • The court has to search if there was an existing relationship between you as a grandparent and the grandchild. The court will approve of the visitation if they feel that the best course for the relationship with your grandchild is to move forward with the visiting plan.
  • The other criteria for the visitation approval are to also get the seal of support from the parents or the legal guardians as the parents are higher in the priority list. The parents/legal guardians will be consulted before the approval of the visitation rights. If the parents refuse to allow the child to meet the grandparent, the court will decline the approval.

When Can A Grandparent File For Visitation Rights?

Normally, a grandparent cannot file for custody if the parents of the grandchild are still married. However, there are some exceptions where the grandparents can still file for the visitation rights of their grandchildren.

If the parents are living separately, then you can file for the custody of the child, or if there is no news about the whereabouts of a parent for at least a month, you can also file for custody in the court.

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The court will also accept your visitation appeal if one of the parents also agrees to your petition in the court. Another exception to this case is if the grandchild is staying or adopted by a stepparent or if the kid is not living with either of the parents.

Although the best approach is to try and resolve these family matters outside the court first, mediation might be a great way to reach a mutual agreement without needing to involve legal matters. Mediation can be a safer way for you to express your desires and concerns on why you want to get the visitation rights for your grandchild.

Discussing matters without going to court is more likely to preserve your relationship with your grandchild and their parents. If anyone other than the parent wants the child’s custody, whether they are the stepparent or any other relative, then the process is called guardianship.

How To Ask For Visitation Rights In Court?

This can be very complicated or challenging for you as a grandparent. Under the laws set by the American government, if you want the legal custody of your grandchild, then you will have to file a petition in court.

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You will also have to figure out any existing family cases under the law. For instance, there could already be a divorce filed between the parents.

Suppose there are already cases filed between the parents, such as domestic violence, divorce, child support, parentage case, restraining order, etc. In that case, you can get visitation rights under these cases.

If there is no existing such case, you will have to build a case from scratch. Follow the following steps to ask for visitation of your grandchild in the court:-

Step 1

Figure out if there is already an open case in the same family. As explained above, an ongoing case will give you a good head start, but if there is no such case, you will have to start from scratch.

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Step 2

The next step requires you to fill out the court forms. There is no specific court form for this case under the central court, but a few state courts have a form or template for this condition. You can use the form FL-300.

You will have to specify what type of visitation schedule you would like to follow with your grandchild and the reasons for your choice. You have to make sure that you have a convincing answer, as based on this answer, the judge will decide whether to hand you the custody of the grandchild or not.

You will have to answer questions like why it is in the grandchild’s best interest to live with you instead of their parents. You can enlighten the judge about your relationship with your grandchild as the stronger your relationship is portrayed with the grandchild. The higher chances will be of you getting custody.

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Step 3

It is also essential that you get your form reviewed before you apply. Getting a professional outlook from a lawyer will benefit you as they can give you important suggestions to strengthen your case.

Getting the form checked before will also rule out the possibility of any errors in the form, due to which you won’t have to send the application again. Your lawyer can also guide you to fill any additional forms if any necessary formalities are left.

Step 4

It is ideal that you at least have three copies of the forms as you will need multiple copies in the future. One copy will be with you, the second and the third copy goes to the parents of the child, and the original copy is submitted to the court.

Step 5

You must always fill the forms and submit them to the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original form with themselves and hand out the copies to you.

There will be a small filing fee that you will have to pay at the time of the submission. If you cannot afford this filing fee under any circumstance, you can get a fee waiver.

Step 6

After you have submitted the form to the clerk, he or she will then give you a court date or mediation date. In most cases, before actually going to the court, you and your grandchild’s parents will have a meeting before the mediator. There also might be a mediation orientation before your case is taken up at the court.

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Step 7

At this stage, you have filed the papers in court for your visitation rights for your grandchild. Now you will have to send a legal notice to the parents informing about the same. There is a lawful procedure for letting someone know that you have filed a petition or case against them at the court.

You will require copies of the papers submitted here as your lawyer will send a copy each to the parents. These papers should reach the parents at least 16 days before the court hearing. These papers must also be handed in person either by your lawyer or yourself.

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If you have filed the case under an ongoing case, you can give each parent a physical notice. You must remember that the person filing the papers is at least 18 years old. If your petition is a new case, you will need to hand in the documents via personal service.

Step 8

The next step requires you to fill the proof of service at the court. You must file these proof of service papers correctly so that there are no complications in the future. You can also consult your family lawyer to check whether all the papers are correct or not.

Step 9

Next, you will have to go to the mediation orientation or the court hearing, depending on the case. The case hearing may be in front of a judge or a commissioner.

The court would first like you to reach a mutual agreement on the terms of the visitation on your own, but if you cannot reach an agreement, the court will interfere. The judge will then decide in the best interest of the child. All the parties involved will have to agree to this decision.

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What Happens After The Judgment?

After the judge has decided what to do with the case, he will announce his decision to the court. The judge will sign a court order, then, usually, the lawyer from either side is asked to prepare this order. The judge then signs on this order when the order is prepared.

To Summarize

Most people are not even aware that they have a right under the law to visit their grandparents if there is a problem in the marriage. This guide is intended to help you understand the conditions under which visitation rights can be granted to grandparents, and what steps you need to take in order to get them.

We hope this content was informative and useful to you. If you liked it, please share it with people who are looking for similar information since it could help improve the life of a child.


Can a parent deny a grandparent visitation? ›

Generally, the rights of a biological parent outweigh those of a grandparent. A parent can deny you time with their child; but if the facts are in your favor, a judge may force a parent to accept your ability to spend time with your grandchild.

Can a mother stop grandparents seeing grandchildren? ›

Withholding Grandchildren from Grandparents: Everything You'd Need To Know. The law does not give grandparents any automatic rights to see their grandchildren. So, in almost every case, parents can keep children away from grandparents if they choose to. This doesn't mean grandparents have no other options.

What rights do grandparents have to see grandchildren? ›

You do not have any legal rights to see your grandchildren.

What to do when you can't see your grandchildren? ›

Most often, I hear from paternal grandparents who cannot see their grandchildren because their current or ex-daughter-in-law does not want them to.
Tips for Families and Grandparents
  1. Focus on effective communication. ...
  2. Consider family counseling. ...
  3. Connect with other grandparents. ...
  4. Try mediation before court.
28 May 2009

What is grandparent alienation Syndrome? ›

Grandparent alienation is a situation where grandparents, for any number of reasons, are not permitted to have what society would call a 'normal' relationship with their grandchildren. In other words, they are alienated from their grandkids.

Can my daughter in law stop me from seeing my grandchild? ›

If your former daughter-in-law wants to deny you access to your own grandchildren, she can, and perfectly legally. You can try approaching her directly and negotiating access, or through Mediation, but there's no guarantee it would work. There is also the alternative of taking the matter to Family Court.

Can grandparents go to court for access? ›

Access for grandparents to their grandchildren should initially be sought through agreement with the parents or carers of the child. However, where this cannot be agreed, the grandparent can seek the leave of the court, and if successful, apply for a child arrangements order to agree access.

When grandparents overstep their boundaries? ›

If the grandparent expresses an understanding and a realization that they overstepped a boundary, then forgive them. Don't hold the grudge forever. If it becomes a pattern, you can still forgive as you adjust.

What are my rights as a grandparent? ›

What rights do grandparents have? Grandparents do not automatically have parental responsibility. This means you do not have any legal rights to see your grandchildren. Unless there's a Court order in place, it is up to the parents to decide who their children see.

What does grandparent alienation do to a child? ›

The children who suffer this alienation have no context of cohesiveness or normalcy in of extended family life. They do not learn or know normalcy and they suffer profound emotional consequences therefrom.

Can grandparents apply for a child arrangement order? ›

If an application is successful, a grandparent will have permission to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. Once permission has been obtained, a grandparent will then need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

How do you take care of your grandparents write in 3 to 4 lines? ›

Caring for your grandparents can be as easy as spending time with them, helping them with chores, and being respectful. Try to schedule time to hang out with them, like going for a walk, eating dinner, or watching a TV show you both like, to maintain a close relationship with them.

How should you treat your grandparents list five things you can do for them? ›

Below we'll outline tips for taking care of your grandparents.
  1. Visit Them Often.
  2. Listen to Them.
  3. Ensure They Have a Safe Home.
  4. Encourage Light Physical Activity.
  5. Help Them Stay Mentally Busy.
  6. Assist in Shopping.
  7. Find Help When You Need It.

How do you deal with a manipulative granddaughter? ›

When your child tries to manipulate you, these strategies can help nip the behavior in the bud.
  1. Respond, don't react.
  2. Don't be emotionally blackmailed.
  3. Stand united with your partner.
  4. Stop negotiating.
  5. Hold them Accountable.
9 Aug 2018

How do you deal with a disrespectful granddaughter? ›

How To Handle Disrespectful Grandchildren: Try These 9 Tactics
  1. Respect. Have you ever tried to explain respect to a little kid? ...
  2. Build A Bond. ...
  3. Be Present. ...
  4. Establish Boundaries. ...
  5. Clear House Rules. ...
  6. Ignore Certain Behaviors. ...
  7. Consistency. ...
  8. Be Patient.
6 Oct 2021

How often should long distance grandparents visit? ›

According to her research, grandparents who live at a long distance tend to travel less often to visit and they stay longer, but the average number of visits that long-distance grandparents make each year is two to four times for trips lasting 5 to 10 days each.

What is narcissistic parental alienation? ›

Narcissistic parental alienation syndrome, or parental alienation syndrome (PAS), occurs when one parent coercively tries to alienate their child from an otherwise loving parent. This manipulation then results in the child's dislike or rejection of the alienated parent.

What are toxic grandparents? ›

A toxic grandparent has an over-inflated ego, a pathetic need for validation, and a tragic lack of empathy for other people's feelings. This need includes people closest to them—their own family.

How can I get to see my grandchildren? ›

Applying for a Child Arrangements Order

Before making a court application, you will need the court's permission to bring your application. If the court grants you permission to make an application, the court will have to decide if, when and how you will get to see your grandchild or grandchildren.

Why do grandparents show favoritism? ›

One grandparent may prefer babies while another enjoys the company of teens. Grandparents may provide extra attention to a child who is bullied or going through a family crisis, but the favoritism does not last once the problems are resolved. Since favoritism is fluid, it does not devalue children as individuals.

Can social services stop me seeing my grandchildren? ›

Because you will not have any legal rights over your grandchild and will have to continue to have to gain the parents' consent to make decisions. Alternatively, if the local authority issue court proceedings in respect of your grandchild/ grandchildren they may be placed with you under a court order.

What is the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren? ›

A close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is mutually beneficial when it comes to the health and well-being of both. Grandparents provide acceptance, patience, love, stability, wisdom, fun and support to their grandchildren. This, in turn, has positive effects on a child's well-being.

Do you get paid for a child arrangement order? ›

The payment of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance begins from the date of the Court Order. When a foster carer is granted a Child Arrangements Order, fostering allowances payments will cease. Payment of Child Arrangements Order Allowances will commence from the date of the Order.

What is a special guardianship order? ›

Special guardianship is a court order which allows parental control over a child by individuals other than the parent. They are usually made to members of the extended birth family or other significant people, such as a child's long term foster carer.

How can I get my grandparents back off? ›

Phrases to use to get grandparents to back off

I will make sure to ask you if I need help.” “I know you don't do things the same way, but we do it like this.” “Thank you for your concern/worry. I'm happy with doing it this way.”

What is a helicopter Grandma? ›

Helicopter parents are described as parents who hover over their children constantly, from the playground to first day of college (and beyond), in an attempt to keep them out of harm's way and remove all obstacles in their paths.

What is a narcissistic grandmother? ›

She might seem to have a very strong personality, but a narcissistic grandmother lacks a core self. Despite appearances, inside she's empty, fragile, and broken, and nothing you can do or say will ever heal her or make her whole.

What boundaries should grandparents have? ›

List of boundaries for grandparents
  • Showing up to your house unannounced.
  • Giving gifts for no reason, especially extravagant gifts.
  • Posting pictures on social media without permission.
  • Undermining parents' rules in front of the children.
  • Criticizing parents in front of the children.
6 Jul 2022

Do grandparents have parental responsibility? ›

As a grandparent you do not have parental responsibility for your grandchild. The parents would normally have parental responsibility and as a result are able to make the decisions about the day to day care and welfare of the child unless the Court makes an alternative order.

Do grandparents have rights in the United States? ›

In 1998, the 105th Congress enacted Public Law 105-374, The Visitation Rights Enforcement Law, guaranteeing that grandparents can visit their grandchildren anywhere in the United States as long as they have visitation rights in one state.

Are grandparents immediate family? ›

Immediate family is limited to the spouse, parents, stepparents, foster parents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, children, stepchildren, foster children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins.

What is using a child as a weapon? ›

Another way a parent can use a child as a weapon involves turning the child against the other parent. In this case, the abuser makes the child believe the other parent never loved them, abandoned them or is dangerous and unsafe to be around.

What does it mean to use your child as a pawn? ›

Well, let's look up the literal definition of “pawn” as defined by Oxford Dictionary: “A chess piece of the smallest size and value, a person used by others for their own purposes.” By calling your child a pawn, they are straight up saying your child isn't of much value beyond a bargaining piece.

Why do grandparents undermine parents? ›

Dr Sophie Moagi, clinical psychologist says, “In many cases grandparents try to impose their parenting strategies merely because they consider themselves more experienced. They think they know what is better for the child; therefore, it is their right to guide the parents.

Can a parent deny a grandparent visitation? ›

Generally, the rights of a biological parent outweigh those of a grandparent. A parent can deny you time with their child; but if the facts are in your favor, a judge may force a parent to accept your ability to spend time with your grandchild.

Who needs permission for a child arrangement order? ›

The child's mother, father or anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a court order. Other people, like grandparents, can apply for these court orders, but they'll need to get permission from the courts first.

How much does it cost to get a court order for child access? ›

The court's decision will be based on what they think is best for the child. This is different for every family but the court will usually try to make sure that children see both parents - unless there's a risk of violence or abuse. You have to pay a £232 court fee to get a child arrangements order.

Do grandparents have legal rights in CT? ›

Connecticut law provides standing for grandparents to ask the Superior Court to grant them visitation. Under the law, “grandparent” means a grandparent or great-grandparent related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption.

Do grandparents have rights in South Dakota? ›

Yes. In South Dakota, the court may grant grandparents reasonable rights of visitation with their grandchild, with or without petition by the grandparents, if the visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild and: If the visitation will not significantly interfere with the parent-child relationship; or.

Do grandparents have rights in SC? ›

In South Carolina, grandparents' rights are derivative of their child's rights. This means that in typical circumstances, a grandparent may visit with a grandchild only when the grandparent's child has visitation.

Do grandparents have rights in Nevada? ›

Yes, in Nevada, grandparents have a legal right to request court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren at any time, including: during or after a divorce, if the child's parents were married. after separation of 30 days or more, if the child's parents were unmarried, or.

What was the Supreme Court ruling on grandparents rights? ›

On June 5, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Washington Supreme Court decision that the state's grandparents' visitation rights statute unconstitutionally infringed on the fundamental right of parents to rear their children.

Can grandparents get custody over father? ›

If Mother is dead or has abrogated her role as Mother, and Father is unfit (or has also abrogated), then yes, grandparents can get custody over a father. The question of whether grandparents can get custody over a mother yields the same answer.

How do I file for grandparents rights in NY? ›

You must file a "petition," (formal written request) with the court in the county where your grandchild lives. In your petition, you will describe your proposed schedule for court-ordered time.

At what age can a child decide which parent to live with in South Dakota? ›

In the state of South Dakota, Judges will consider a child's preference at age 14. However, the child's mental maturity and other factors will be considered as well.

Do grandparents have rights in North Dakota? ›

Yes, in North Dakota, grandparents and great-grandparents have a legal right to request court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Grandparents (and great-grandparents) may exercise this right at any time, including during or after the child's parents divorce or separation, and/or after one parent's death.

Do step parents have rights in South Dakota? ›

Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In South Dakota:

The state of South Dakota does not have any laws that grant child visitation rights to step-parents, which may make applying for visitation significantly harder.

At what age can a child refuse visitation in SC? ›

Many clients ask me whether there is an age can a child have to be to refuse visitation. Under South Carolina's family laws, there is no set age at which a child can refuse to go visit with the other parent.

Can grandparents file for visitation rights in South Carolina? ›

Do grandparents have rights in South Carolina? In a nutshell, the answer is YES! Grandparents can have court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren. They can even assume custody of grandchildren in order to provide a better living situation for them.

How do I file for visitation rights in South Carolina? ›

Complete the South Carolina Self-Represented Litigant Visitation packet online using a free interactive program. This program allows you to quickly and easily complete the visitation forms by answering simple questions online. Visit for more information.

What is considered an unfit parent in Nevada? ›

NRS 128.018 “Unfit parent” defined. “Unfit parent” is any parent of a child who, by reason of the parent's fault or habit or conduct toward the child or other persons, fails to provide such child with proper care, guidance and support.

What age in Nevada can a child choose which parent to live with? ›

Typically, a child will not be asked to voice a preference about custody decisions in Nevada until he or she is at least 12 years old.

Do grandparents have rights in California? ›

Do Grandparents Have Rights in California? When it comes to family law, grandparents have rights in California when it comes to visitation and custody. These rights are outlined in California Family Code sections 3100-3105.


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4. Financial Assistance for Kinship Caregivers - 2.11.20
(Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC))
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