Grandparents often have a close and meaningful relationship with their grandchildren. Sometimes they are even heavily involved in caretaking, education, and financial support. In instances where involved grandparents are denied the ability to visit with their grandchildren, it can be an exceedingly difficult and contentious time. Courts generally defer to the parents wishes since they have a right to decide who gets to visit with their children. The courts often do not intervene with the parent’s decisions unless such decisions are not in the best interest of the children.
In some instances, a court may overrule a parent’s right to deny visitation and grant visitation to a grandparent even if it is against a parent’s wishes. A grandparent must make a compelling argument to achieve visitation rights, however. If you believe that your grandchildren might be adversely affected by your inability to visit them, a Montgomery County grandparents’ rights lawyer could assist with taking your case to court. A knowledgeable family lawyer could help you with all aspects of your case.
Does the Law in Montgomery County Recognize Grandparents’ Rights?
In exceptional circumstances, grandparents may petition a court for visitation rights to their grandchildren. Maryland state law on grandparents’ visitation is codified in Md. Code Ann. Family Law §9-102. However, grandparents’ rights to visitation are not automatic. Courts will not grant visitation only because the grandparent is being detrimentally affected. Instead, Montgomery County courts make the welfare of the children the determining factor as to whether to order grandparent visitation. The grandparent must prove that it would be in the best interests of the child to have such visitation, and this argument must be compelling enough to override the parents’ objections. Grandparents in Montgomery County who believe they have a compelling case for visitation could benefit from the counsel of a local grandparents’ rights lawyer.
Courts in Maryland will generally presume that parents deny visitation to grandparents because the visitation is not in the children’s best interests. Therefore, a grandparent who would like to win court-ordered visitation will need to meet a high standard of proof to go against this presumption. They might be able to meet this burden of proof if they have evidence that the parents are unfit to make the decision or if there are exceptional circumstances warranting a continuation of the visitation. To show an extreme case of parental unfitness, the grandparents would need to show evidence of neglect, abuse, addiction, or other misconduct on the parents’ behalf. Alternatively, they could argue that there is some sort of exceptional circumstance at play and that their grandchildren will be harmed by being deprived of visits from their grandparents. If they could demonstrate either of these, the grandparent may be able to satisfactorily show that the child’s welfare will be best served through the visitation order.
What Factors Do Courts Consider When Deciding on Grandparents’ Visitation Petitions?
Courts consider a variety of factors when they determine whether to grant grandparent visitation. They will contemplate the child’s past and present relationship to the grandparent, the needs of the child, any mental health issues, school obligations, and any other facts specific to the case at hand. In instances where the parents of the child are abusive or suffering from addictions, the court will consider these unfortunate circumstances and apply them to the case.
Montgomery County grandparents who believe that court-ordered visitation would be in their grandchild’s best interests should contact a grandparents’ rights lawyer who could collect evidence relevant to the case and work toward a positive resolution.
Call a Montgomery County Grandparents’ Rights Attorney Today
When conflicts arise amongst family members and parents deny grandparents time to visit with their grandchildren, it is a highly stressful time. If you are a concerned grandparent who needs legal assistance, a Montgomery County grandparents’ rights lawyer could help. Call today to schedule a consultation.