The Rights of Grandparents 14

What You Need to Know About Grandparent and Caretaker Visitation

If you are a grandparent or caretaker of a child, you may be faced with a challenge to your right to see that child at some time in the future. This often happens when the child’s parents divorce or when one parent dies and the grandparents and caretakers are sometimes left out of the visitation loop.

However, all states have some sort of grandparent visitation statute to provide legitimate parties a means of claiming a legal right to visitation with the child in question.

These statutes are restrictive in some states, providing only for grandparents and not for other caretakers such as stepparents and foster parents. In addition, some statutes limit court-ordered access to situations when the nuclear family unit has been dissolved, such as in the case of divorce or death.

Other states, however, offer more permissive statutes that include secondary caretakers in addition to grandparents and also eliminate the requirement of the dissolution of the family unit before a claim can be made.

In all cases, the “best interests of the child” is the standard used to determine whether such visitation should be granted.

This type of so-called “third party” visitation has been challenged by parents claiming that it violates their natural right to raise their child as they see fit.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a Washington case called Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). In that case, the grandparents (parents of the deceased father of the children) sued to have certain visitation rights – even though the mother had not denied visitation, instead suggesting slightly less visitation time. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the Washington visitation statute unconstitutionally infringed on parents’ fundamental right to rear their children as they see fit. The justices acknowledged that grandparent visitation could be important to a child but decided that the language of the Washington statute was just too broad and that some deference has to be given to the child-rearing decisions of a fit parent.

Following the Troxel case and state-level litigation that followed, several states had to revise their grandparent visitation statutes to make sure they were enforceable.

In order to make a claim for grandparent or caretaker visition, you will need to petition the family court and request a hearing. The court would then consider whether or not your request is in the best interests of the child after considering all of the circumstances and evidence.

To determine whether or not you can make such a claim, you need to consult an attorney and/or your state’s laws regarding grandparent and caretaker visitation.


  • Vicki Sutberry

    I am interested in peitioning for grandparent visitation rights. I need advice and assistance please

    • kim

      check out fb grandparents right for your state. we are going to change the laws. it takes all of us to do this and it will take time. but please check it out and join

  • Jacob

    me and my girlfriend are having a baby but we dont live together. I have bought almost everything for our baby and when she is born I will be staying one week at her house with the baby and one week at my house with the baby. Am I aloud to claim her on my taxes? if not who is?

  • shelia

    my husband has sole phycial custody of his two daughters (ages 9 &11)and their mother sees the girls every other weekend and every Wednesday for 3hrs duringthe school year. Then also alt.holidays ad every other week in the summer.But this summer our family has moved 2 1/2 hours away from the mother…we meet half way every other weeknd to exchange the girlsfor a week….my question is…now that we have moved the mother will not be able to see the girls on Wednesday afternoon anymore,but all other visitation will remain the same…will the courts have the Father(my husband give the mother extra visitation because the she wont be seeing the irls on wednesdays anymore?? Please help!!! Any advise woould help. thank you

  • Pat

    I would like to petition the Kalispell, Montana, Court for visitation with my two grandchildren.

  • Linda Sellers

    My daughter in law’s daughter has died and left a 4 month old son. She and the father were living together. Should my daughter in law file for some type of legal visitation rights, and can she file for custody of the child which is what she would like to do? My son is not the father of the daughter but raised her for the last 8 years of her life. she was 20 at the time of death. I don’t know the father’s wishes but is allowing visitation at this time.

  • tricia

    im haven a kid with my boyfriend and he has 4 other kids with his ex does my soon to be son in march or me have any right to see his brothers and sisters . plz help


    in washington state is there a form that i can file for visitation with my grandchildren

  • Katherine

    My son is moving to OR, in the near future and would like to give me his parental wrights. Is there any way to do this legal the state of North Catolina.

  • Julie

    My son died 3 years ago. He was in the military and his widow is now marrying in May to another military man and moving to the other end of the US. What are my rights for visitation and also if his mom’s new husband adopt him.

  • B. Barge

    September 12,2012 I recently moved to Alabama from Georgia where I lived with my son and daughter in law and there son who is now 2 1/2 years old. Over a year ago my daughter in law got angry with me because I voiced my opinion about her slapping my grand son who at that time was 20 months old. (She hit him so hard she knocked him in tthe floor) They forced me to move out of our home that we had built together and is deeded to my son and I equally. They also refused to let me see my grandson. The third week of august 2011 was the last time I got to see him. Is there any thing that I can do to force their hand so I can have visitation rights?

  • gilbert aleman

    My granddaughter and son was living with me for 4 years and my grandbaby is 4 so she been with me since she was born and I been the one that paid for everything she need and wanted my son has a job but all his money he would send it to the baby’s mom and now they move out and don’t let me see her as a grandpa what can I do to see her again thank u

  • terry

    my daughter has a half sister and recently they met up at a funeral and was getting to know each other,but they knew of each other for years.My daughter was going thru a difficult time and asked her half sister to take them for a few days,since she has 3 kids of her own.Everything went fine and the half sister brought them back,.So another event happened and was only to keep them for 2 weeks,so when my daughter went to pick her them up on a scheduled date the half sister went and filed for temporary custoday of the kids and due in court the 12/23/14.They had written up a document for halfsister to have temporary custody of kids but could not get it notorized.So the half sister has nothing granting those kids to her,and we haven’t seen them since.We called her for a address to pick kids up,which the address given landed us in a shopping mall,grant you we live in Tennessee and half sister lives in Kentucky and we cant find her to get her kids back until we go to court.We miss those babies,what are the chances of my daughter getting her babies back?The half sister has told nothing but lies this whole time and we want the babies back.Does she have any rights to keep her kids?My daughter does not drink/or drugs.She is wonderful with her kids,and I don’t know what to do.Do I have any rights as a grandmother if custody is not given back to my daughter?Please help.the last time we talked to our granddaughter she was crying for us to come get her and she is 4yrs old and the baby boy is4 months,but we never got the chance to get them,because on the pickup date she filed a motion,for temporary custody,actually it doesn’t say anything on the paper,except to be in court on date specified.

  • Minecia

    I am trying to see how to go about obtaining visitation my grandson , both parents or living his father has custodial custody of him right now the only way my daughter can see him is that she can only go to the fathers house to see him, I haven’t seen my grandson in 3 years he is 7, they where married and they divorced , because of that he went to go for custody he lives in VA and my daughter and I stay in IL she got served with court papers 4 days before the court appearance, she didn’t sign for the papers they where dropped off at my mother house, we didn’t have enough time or the money to make it to VA so the courts granted custodial custody to the father. I have been asking if my grandson could come visit and the father keeps telling me no that I can come there my grandson really want to come see the rest of his family and I don’t wont him to be disappointed , I have talk to my grandson and he really doesn’t like stay with his dad he says his life is miserable at 7, I am in the process of also helping my daughter to appeal the custodial custody order. I really need some advise