Grandparent visitation rights exist by common law and the court decides on a case by case basis. Oklahoma laws give preference to parents to make choices about raising their children, including whom children will spend time with, such as grandparents. Unfortunately, the law says that grandparents do not have any statutory right or constitutional right to visit their grandchildren. If the grandchild’s family is split by divorce, though, the grandparents may have an opportunity to win visitation rights if they can prove some particular items in court.
Grandparent Visitation Rights by Statute
Oklahoma does not provide a statutory right to Grandparent visitation. The law regarding this kind of visitation is a found in the common law and they evaluate on a cases by case basis. In Oklahoma, grandparent visitation rights are not automatically favored by the courts. The primary consideration in any custody or visitation case, including grandparent visitation, is the best interests of the child. The court will make decisions based on what it deems to be in the child’s best interests, taking into account various factors.
While Oklahoma recognizes that maintaining a relationship with grandparents can be beneficial for the child, it does not automatically assume that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests. The court will evaluate the specific circumstances of the case and consider factors such as the grandparent’s relationship with the child, the child’s well-being, the child’s preference (if they are old enough to express it), the parent’s wishes, and any other relevant factors. The family courts in our state look to the Childs parents to provide visitation to the Grandparents. The belief is that the Grandparent relation grow’s from the Childs parent. When this isn’t possible the common law steps in and decides based on several different factors.
Elements Of Court Approved Visitation
The law in Oklahoma establishes a three-part test for when a court is to grant visitation rights to a grandparent. The grandparent seeking court-ordered visitation must show the following evidence:
- The child’s best interest involves visitation with the grandparent
- The child’s parent is unfit or otherwise have a drug addiction. Or if the parent is fit, the child will suffer potential harm without visitation with the grandparent.
- The child’s nuclear family is not intact.
- The child has had a significant relationship with the Grandparent and this relationship is in the best interest of the child.
The third prong of the test is the simplest. The divorce of the child’s parents shows that the family unit is not together. This gives the grandparents a right to ask the court for visitation rights. This only happens if the other terms of the test are not satisfactory. In the case where the parents are not married, the father of the child has the same rights as any other father. Further, as a grandparent, you are trying to assert that right but there must be a paternity case filed by the unmarried father.
The first point of the test is usually relatively easy to show. It can be agreed in many cases that a child’s healthy relationship with adults is a benefit for the child. Therefore, it can be legally seen to be in the child’s best interest.
The second element of the grandparent visitation test is the most challenging part of the legal requirements. Showing an unfit parent or the real potential harm is a heavy burden for the grandparent to prove in court. This is especially true if the grandparent’s visitation request is not allowed.
Grandparent Visitation Request Procedure
A grandparent who wants to get grandchild visitation must file a verified petition in court. The form of the filing is essential. Many grandparents try to intervene by filing a motion in their child’s custody case involving the grandchild. However, courts rule that this procedure does not give the court proper jurisdiction over the grandparent’s request. In this instance, they dismiss it.
A grandparent’s petition must be filed in the district court of Oklahoma, where a proceeding involving the child is ongoing. If no court has a proceeding involving the child, the parent can file the petition. This happens in the district where the grandchild or parent lives. However, the parent or person with custody of the grandchild must receive personal notice of the petition.
Arranging Grandparent Visitation With A Child’s Parent
Since the court-petition method is very challenging to win, a recommended way to arrange for court-approved grandparent visitation involves working with the child’s parent. This happens in the parent’s custody proceeding to show that the parent wants to allow the grandparent to visit with the child during the parent’s visitation time.
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Grandparent Attorneys in Tulsa
Grandparent visitation rights are challenging, as the law prefers to let parents decide about their kids’ activities and whom they will spend time with. Getting a court to order grandparent visitation tends to be an uphill battle that is difficult to win. A stronger strategy is to work with a skillful family law attorney to combine the grandparent visitation request with the custody hearing for the child’s parent. This is so that the grandparent can share visitation time with their child in visiting their grandchild. Call Kania Law Office at 918-743-2233 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.