The 101 Guide On What Are Grandparents Rights

Everthing you need to know about grandparents rights and it's use

By Lisa
The 101 Guide On What Are Grandparents Rights

What Are Grandparents Rights

The lady justice

Grandparent’s rights are defined by the US. Supreme Court decisions as the right to seek visitation and custody or grandchildren. Grandparents can have as much access to a child as they may wish without any formal procedures attached. However, when grandparents find themselves in a difficult situation upon the death of parents, drug/alcohol abuse, incarceration, the breakdown in the relationship with the parents and in situations where there’s a strain in the relationship between the parents. Grandparents can enforce their rights to see their grandchildren by filing a case in court albeit the suits are expensive.

Basically, the 50 states in the United States have some sort of grandparent visitation which enables foster parents and stepparents visitation rights, the real contrast is the circumstances under which these visits may be permitted.

In South Carolina, grandparents rights are derived from a child’s rights which means a grandparent can only visit a child who has visitation rights and In Wisconsin the rights are outlined persons who are eligible to visit as “visitation of certain persons” includes grandparents, step-parents and great-grandparents and persons who maintained a connection that bears semblance to the parent-child relationship.

Pennsylvania laws refer to visitation rights as “partial physical custody or supervised physical custody” under the PPC, grandparents are at liberty to take the child where ever within a stipulated timeframe but under SPC, parents in custody of the child determines the acceptable place for access.

Criteria to Grant Visitation Rights

These are a few factors that the court will use to evaluate on visitation rights.

1. Paternal Grandparents

Cases where the paternity of the child is established and proven that these are the grandparents of the kid.

2. Interest of the child.

The purpose of the visitation is in the interest of the child.

3. Great grandparents

Great grandparents have the same rights as grandparents and adoption terminates visitation rights except the adopting party is the grandparent, stepparent, great grandparent.

4. Parent's inability to take care of the kid

Grandparents can prove the child’s parent is not fit to perform their roles thus then they can exercise step in.

5. Parent-Child Relationship

If granting the grandparents their rights will not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

6. A Child's Needs

Capability of grandparents/parents to meet the child's needs.

Grandparents Rights For Biological Child versus an Adopted Child

Parents can determine who their child has a relationship with, the courts have decided in several cases that grandparents constitutionally have no rights of custody and visitation to their grandchild however states differ in regards to what they may consider factors and it is in the child's best interest to award custody to the grandparent. 

A biological Grandparents may request the court for legal and physical custody in several ways:

Foster care

The parent’s inability to cater for a child gives the state legal responsibility of their child and shall be inclined to place a child in the care of a close relative which includes grandparents This is because the state is careful not to disrupt a child’s sense of normalcy.


Grandparents can adopt their biological grandchildren, in states such as Arkansas, however, there is no law that assures a grandparent of their right to adopt a grandchild.

Mothers have the power to influence who gets to adopt her child and there’s no law compelling her to name her parents or the child's paternal grandparents as adoptive parents.

Legal Guardianship

Parents may also continue to have their rights to their children notwithstanding a court order vesting the grandparents with guardianship rights.

Power of attorney

The grandparents have the rights to choose what happens in relation to the child within  the circumstances prescribed in the power of attorney which can be brought to an end by the parents.

Some states may allow visitation rights after you petition the courts, custody can be shared between the parents and grandparents.

Grandparent rights for adopted children are the same as grandparent’s rights for biological children.

Grandparents rights have increased in the last few years as there are rights under the children’s and minors act to have visitation and partial custody of their grandchild when circumstances permit it and a decree for adoption terminates any pre-existing visitation an partial custody rights except when the child is adopted by a step-parent.

The grandparent also has rights to intrude on matters of child dependency all of this includes grandparents who become so by adoption.

Visitation Rights After Death of a Parent

Grandparents can safeguard their visitation rights with their grandchildren after the death of the parents if these few criteria are met:

1. They establish that they have a strong relationship with their grandchildren.

2. They provide services to their grandchildren

3. If they spend money on their grandchildren

The odds are seemingly against grandparents thus establishing that an on-going and beneficial relationship exists is advantageous to maintaining visitation rights with grandchildren after the death of their parents.

Grandparents Rights After Adoption of the Child

The effect of adoption is that all rights of the biological family are severed and the adoptive family assumes full rights as though they are the biological family. This is the norm especially when adoption happens through an adoption agency. There are a few exceptions such as when a stepparent adopts a child after the death of a spouse, or when the grandparent had partial custody before adoption. 

The grandparents can ask the court for visitation rights and the adoptive parents have a major say and the petition may be granted by a court that chooses to sympathize.

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Historically grandparents were not recognized as having rights to their grandchildren, only the parents were accorded these legal rights in relation to the child. However, situations such as death of a parent, incarceration, mental insanity, drug addiction or neglect and the likes may warrant the grandparents to step in for the interest of the child having proven that they had been an existing relationship, which the courts may consider before according visitation, custody and even adoption rights to the child.

The law is evolving and now grandparents of adopted children also have rights the same way a biological grandparent would have, they have the right to speak on child dependency issues and also petition the courts to grant them visitation rights after the adoption of their grandchildren. Grandparent rights vary depending on the law of your state but these provisions are fairly what to expect.



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