Grandchildren are often a blessing to grandparents who often love doting on them and “spoiling” them. Parents often appreciate the attention grandparents are willing to give to the grandchildren as this can give parents time to take care of other business, pursue careers, or just enjoy time alone without the kids. When the parents divorce, however, both the children as well as the grandparents can be caught in the middle of the feuding parents. A grandparent who was accustomed to babysitting the grandkids while the parents were at work may be told that he or she is no longer welcome to watch the child; similarly, grandparents who were used to being invited to important school and sports functions involving the grandchildren may find that invitations come with much less frequency. When the grandchild’s parents are keeping you, the grandparent, from seeing your grandchild, what options do you have?
Visitation Rights Depend on a “Substantial Relationship”
Unlike parents – whom the law presumes need to be involved in a child’s life – grandparent visitation is not automatic. Kansas law allows a district court to enter an order allowing for grandparent visitation in cases where: (1) it is in the best interest of the child to do so; and (2) you and your grandchild had developed a substantial relationship. The law does not elaborate on what either of these terms mean: a judge – not you – will determine whether grandparent visitation is “in the child’s best interest” and whether you and your grandchild had a “substantial relationship.” Some facts and circumstances the court may consider include:
- The age of the child;
- The express desires of the child (if the child is older);
- The wishes of the parents and any reason either of them may have to oppose grandparent visitation;
- The frequency of visitation you had prior to the divorce;
- The quality of the relationship between the child and yourself (for example, grandparents who provide care for their grandchild for several hours each day are likely to have a relationship of higher quality with their grandchild than a grandparent who lives close and visits frequently but has not provided any care for the child);
- Other factors the court deems relevant.
If you are heading to court to ask for grandparent visitation, establishing that visitation would be in the child’s best interest and that you had developed a substantial relationship with your child will require more than just your own testimony. You may need the testimony of friends, neighbors, teachers, and/or psychologists, just to name a few. Your Kansas family law attorney can help determine what evidence and testimony will give you the best opportunity for success on your request for visitation.
“The Court Has Denied My Request for Visitation – What Can I Do Now?”
If the district court has heard your request for visitation but has decided not to grant you any visitation, your options for obtaining visitation are even more limited. Absent some legal error on the part of the court (i.e., the judge considered the wrong factors), any appeal will likely be a waste of time and money. You may be able to bring another petition requesting visitation if there is some change in facts or circumstances, such as a new psychological report or testimony that was not previously presented to the court that suggests visitation might now be appropriate. Otherwise, you will need to obtain permission from the custodial parent (the one with whom the child is with at any given moment) to see your grandchild.
If you are a grandparent who is seeking visitation with your grandchild, do not give up hope until you speak with a Wichita Family Law Attorney. The Weber Law Office can evaluate your situation and advise you on your legal rights and chances of success in securing visitation. Contact us today to discuss your case by calling (316) 265-7802 or contacting us through our website.