Parents in divorce cases or in a paternity case generally will receive an order from the court that outlines what their parenting time (commonly known as visitation) with their children will be. But what about grandparents? Are grandparents entitled to seek a court order to permit them to receive a visitation schedule with their grandchildren?
What Situations Enable a Grandparent to Seek Visitation?
In Indiana, grandparents are permitted to seek visitation rights in three separate scenarios:
- If one of the grandchild’s parents is deceased;
- If the grandchild’s parents are divorced; or
- If the grandchild was born out of wedlock.
In a situation in which a grandchild was born out of wedlock, the court may not grant visitation rights to the grandchild’s paternal grandparent if the grandchild’s father has not established paternity to the grandchild.
How Does the Court Decide the Appropriate Amount of Visitation?
Indiana courts are not required to grant visitation to a grandparent, even if the grandparent meets one of the qualifications above to file a case requesting grandparent visitation. The court has the authority to grant or deny grandparent visitation and may only grant visitation if the court finds that the visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild. When deciding whether grandparent visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild, the court will likely consider whether the grandparent has had or has tried to have meaningful contact with the grandchild.
When the court makes a decision on whether or not to grant grandparent visitation, the court must address the following:
- The presumption that a fit parent acts in the grandchild’s best interests;
- The special weight that must be afforded to a parent’s decision to deny or limit visitation;
- Whether the grandparent has shown that the visitation would be in the grandchild’s best interests; and
- Whether the parent has denied visitation or has just limited visitation.
If you or someone you know have questions regarding grandparent visitation, consulting with a family law attorney regarding your options can be helpful. The experienced family law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can help with your visitation needs. Give us a call at (317)-526-4630 to help you navigate your case.