Many grandparents may be unable to spend time with their beloved grandchildren. Grandparents have rights. If you are in this unfortunate place, a Maryland grandparents’ rights lawyer stands ready to help.
Maybe you are concerned about the safety and well-being of your grandchild and decide to seek custody. Courts see the welfare of all children as paramount, and these critical cases require evidence and expertise. Although the law in Maryland allows grandparents to seek visitation and custody, it is a challenging road. Our team of family attorneys understands what it takes to assert your rights.
When Grandparents Want Visitation
Maryland law allows grandparents to petition a court for visitation, and courts always view the situation through the standard of the child’s best interests. Generally, if a parent objects to grandparent visitation, a court is unlikely to grant it unless the grandparent can prove parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances or that they have de facto parent status, discussed more fully below in the context of custody.
Regarding custody and visitation for children, the court sees three categories of petitioners: parents, de facto parents, or third parties. A de facto parent is one who acts as the child’s parent. For example, if an individual has lived with and cared for the children for an extended period, and a bond has formed over time, the court may declare them the de facto parent.
For purposes of visitation, grandparents are third parties unless they can prove they are de facto parents. There must be compelling evidence that visitation for the third party is in the best interests of the child. A Maryland attorney who practices in grandparents’ rights would know the kind of proof necessary to get a visitation order.
As to the visitation schedule itself, courts will generally defer to parents regarding the details of what works for the family and the children.
Proof Required for Grandparents to Get Custody
If there are concerns about a child’s well-being, grandparents can petition the court for custody. Grandparents, as third parties to the situation, must prove that the parent or parents are unfit to care for the child or that there are exceptional circumstances or that they are in fact de factor parents. This is a high bar, as courts presume that parents are the best ones to care for their children.
It is difficult to prove parental unfitness in Maryland. Evidence that a parent is unfit includes such things as proof of physical, emotional, or sexual harm or abuse by the parent, or abandonment of the child. The court may also consider whether the parent suffers from substance abuse or a mental illness that prevents them from caring for the child. A grandparents’ rights attorney understands the high burden of proof necessary to win these cases.
Another way to award custody to grandparents is to prove exceptional circumstances. For instance, if a parent leaves a child in the grandparents’ care and substantial time has elapsed, a court might find that it is in the child’s best interests to stay with the grandparents. The law favors biological parents having custody, but courts always consider the need for stability and certainty in the child’s future, as well as many other factors.
These cases can be fraught with conflict, and an attorney in Maryland who understands grandparents’ rights can help prepare for these challenges.
How a Maryland Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer Could Help You
It can be heartbreaking not to have access to your grandchildren, and even more distressing to worry about their safety and health. Although the law favors the wishes of the parents, our team of Maryland grandparents’ rights attorneys knows that you, too, have a right to see and love your grandchildren.