Divorce and child support issues are difficult for any family involved in them. One of the often overlooked individuals most closely impacted by such proceedings include the grandparents of both sides.
Grandparents do in fact have the right to visit their grandchildren in most states, including Oklahoma. However, there are some complexities in terms of exercising those rights. Our family lawyers in OKC can help make sure your visitation rights as a grandparent are honored and upheld.
Our team at The Law Office of Rhonda Telford Naidu is ready and willing to assist you today.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
As with many court decisions involving children, grandparents are typically granted visitation rights if having a relationship with the grandparents is considered to be in the best interests of the child by the court. Ensuring a relationship between parents and their children is the court’s first priority, though, and if there is a conflict between the grandparent’s rights and the parent’s rights, the parent’s rights generally supersede those of the grandparent.
Visitation rights with a grandparent may be considered if at least three of the following criteria are met:
- Grandparent visits are in the best interests of the children
- The parents are unfit or the child would be harmed by not seeing their grandchildren
- The family is no longer intact due to:
- A deceased parent
- Someone other than the parent has been awarded custody
- A parent has been incarcerated
- The grandparents had custody for at least one year
- The parents deserted the child for one year or more
- The parents never married and don’t live together
In general, all three criteria must be met for a court to order grandparent visitation rights. For example, if the parents are married and simply don’t like the grandparents and don’t want them to visit, that would not meet the criteria for court-ordered grandparent visitation, as the family is intact.
Considering the Best Interests of the Child
The best interests of the child are central to deciding about grandparent visitation. When considering the best interests of the child, the court will take into account:
- The age of the child
- The motivation of the grandparents in wanting a relationship with their grandchild
- The physical and mental health of the grandparents, parents, and children
- The child’s desire for a relationship with his or her grandparents
- Whether the grandparents will foster a positive relationship between the parent and his or her children
- The overall stability of the family
A judge’s first priority is going to be to encourage a good parent-child relationship. If allowing a grandparent visitation will conflict with that relationship, the court is much less likely to allow it.
In some cases, a grandparent may be awarded custody of their grandchild if the parent is unfit. This will only occur if both parents are unfit or unable to parent, though. If there is a parent who is willing, able, and fit to be in the child’s life, the court will typically not grant custody to the grandparents over a parent.
We Can Help
Navigating Oklahoma’s custody laws is a challenge, and our family lawyers in OKC are ready to help. We can assist with a case or just advise you in one area, which is called limited scope representation. Contact us today to find out how we can help at 405-792-2400.