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Child Visitation for Grandparents

Understanding Grandparent Visitation

Indiana has recognized that a child’s best interest is often served by having meaningful contact with his or her grandparents. However, Indiana has balanced the parents’ right to raise their child pursuant to their wishes and the grandparents’ right to participate in their grandchildren’s lives. In the event grandparents and parents are unable to agree on child visitation, grandparents are not without options to attempt to gain a scheduled time to spend with their grandchildren.

A grandparent may seek visitation rights of their grandchild only if:

  • The grandchild’s parent is deceased;
  • The grandchild’s parents’ marriage has been dissolved in Indiana; or
  • The grandchild was born outside of marriage. If paternity is not established, a paternal (father’s side) grandparent may not request grandparent visitation.

It is important to note that if the grandchild’s parents are both living and are still married, a grandparent cannot request the court order visitation. Further, when the grandchild’s parents’ marriage has been dissolved in another state, in certain circumstances, it is possible for a grandparent to seek child visitation in Indiana.

Grandparent Visitation Petition Process

A proceeding for grandparent visitation is commenced by filing a petition in the county in which the grandchild resides or the court having jurisdiction over the parents’ dissolution of marriage. Once a petition is filed and if an agreement is not reached, the court will hold a hearing in which the parties will present evidence to support their position regarding grandparent visitation. If the court determines that the visitation rights are in the grandchild’s best interest, it may grant visitation rights. In doing so, the court must enter an order that addresses the following factors:

  • The presumption that a fit parent’s decision about grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest;
  • The special weight that must be given to a fit parent’s decision regarding non-parental visitation;
  • Some weight given to whether a parent has denied or simply limited visitation;
  • Whether the grandparent has established that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

There is not a set standard of time that grandparents receive under the Grandparent Visitation Act. The courts entering visitation orders should take into account each relationship to set forth a grandparent visitation schedule that is in the grandchild’s best interest.

Maintaining the Court Order

Once an order granting or denying grandparent visitation is entered, the grandparent or parent may request that the court modify or terminate the order. The party moving must present evidence to show a change in circumstances to modify the visitation order. The court may modify the grandparent visitation order so long as modification would serve the best interest of the child.

Visitation rights survive the establishment of paternity by a court other than in an adoption proceeding. With regards to an adoption, grandparent visitation rights survive an adoption of the grandchild by a stepparent and a person who is biologically related to the grandchild (grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew).

Contact Hains Law, LLC Today

Ultimately, grandparent visitation cases are emotional, which is why the assistance of a Hamilton County child visitation attorney is so crucial. These types of visitation cases require focus and a reasonable approach to protect the grandchild’s best interest. With a decade of experience, Joshua R. Hains is prepared to handle your case. Please contact the firm to set up an initial consultation.