Grandparents and their grandchildren often develop a special bond that is satisfying to them in ways not possible between a child and their parent. Children who experience this bond often cherish it throughout their lives.
In many cases, grandparents are retired and have time on their hands to take care of their grandchildren. When children are out of school for the summer, grandparents may be able to care for them for a week or even a month. Especially if this has been a family tradition, it may be best for all involved to keep the tradition going.
Grandparents who wish to assume custody of their grandchild for particular times or events may request that those times and events be recognized in the custody plan negotiated as part of the parents’ divorce settlement.
If a parent is hostile to maintaining the grandparent’s connection to their grandchild, then gaining visitation rights can become a challenge. In Maryland, grandparents have a legal right to petition a family court to ask for reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. However, the courts presume that the parents’ preference is in the best interests of the child. This means that unless the parents are determined to be unfit, or if the grandparents’ relationship with the child is such that the grandparents are considered de facto parents, obtaining visitation over the objection of the parents is impossible.
The Child’s Best Interest
A key factor courts consider is the extent and nature of the relationship between a grandchild and their grandparent. A court will be moved by evidence that the bond established between the grandparent and grandchild is like that of a bond between a parent and child.
If you need to make a case to the court for visitation rights, it is important to provide it with proof of the bond. Some suggestions to consider are keeping records such as:
- Photos from birthday and other celebrations of the two of you together
- Texts and e-mail with the parents making childcare arrangements
- Calendar entries recording days you spent caring for the grandchild
- Space in your home for the child to stay
It is important for a grandparent to act quickly if they know they will have to petition a court for visitation rights. A lapse in contact will work against making a case for visitation rights.
The process will involve filing a petition requesting custody and informing everyone involved. The petition should make the case establishing the bond and that the child’s best interests will be served. Include a proposed schedule for court-ordered visits in the petition.
When a Parent is Unfit
Sadly, sometimes a custodial parent is simply not up to the task of caring for the child. If a grandparent is aware of the problem, they may petition the courts for custody. In this case, if the court determines the child is at risk of serious harm with the parent, a judge may agree that living with the grandparent would serve the child’s best interest.
Columbia Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represents Clients Seeking Visitation Rights
If your son or daughter has gotten divorced and this has negatively impacted your ability to see your grandchildren, there may be something we can do to help. Attorneys at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC have experience establishing visitation rights of grandparents. Contact our Towson or Hunt Valley, Maryland office at 443-589-0150 or complete an online contact form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable Columbia grandparents’ rights lawyer.
We represent clients in Baltimore, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Parkton, Pikesville and throughout Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County, Maryland.