Sometimes, parents have issues or obligations that make it necessary for a grandparent to step in and help with children. Other times, grandparents may have issues with their child or their child’s spouse that make it difficult to visit with their grandchildren.
West Virginia law recognizes visitation rights for grandparents. Courts can order a custody or visitation arrangement to grandparents, depending on the circumstances. Read on to learn more about the factors considered when courts make custody and visitation decisions involving grandparents.
Non-biological grandparents count
Not all families fit into a traditional mold. Virginia legislation addresses this by defining a “grandparent” as:
- a biological grandparent
- a person married or previously married to a biological grandparent
- a person who has had custody of the parent of the child(ren) in question
Similarly, the parents of the grandchildren may not fit a traditional view either. For example, a grandparent may petition family court for a visitation order, regardless of whether the parents of the child are married.
Factors considered by the judge or court
In custody and visitation cases, the judge or court always keeps the best interests of the child at the forefront of considerations. The following considerations may be made to help determine custody and visitation decisions involving grandparents:
- Child’s age
- Relationship between child and the grandparent
- Relationship between child and each of his or her parents and the grandparent
- Time since the child was last contacted by the grandparent
- Whether the proposed arrangement may interfere with the parent-child relationship
- Existing custody and visitation arrangement between parents (if applicable)
- Amount of time reasonably available in consideration with the involved party’s schedules
- History of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect (if applicable)
- Whether the grandparent has been a significant caretaker for the child in the past
- Preference of the parent(s)
- Wishes of the child
If you believe you may need a court-ordered arrangement to receive visitation time with your grandchild, contact an attorney for help. An experienced Family Law attorney can help you fight for your right to spend time with your grandchildren.