Grandchildren bring joy and light into the lives of their grandparents. Children benefit from having close relationships and regular interactions with their grandparents. Sometimes, grandparents who have developed close relationships with their grandchildren find themselves in a situation where they have been cut out of their grandchildren’s lives. This is painful for both grandparents and grandchildren, but it may not have to be a permanent issue. If you are a Kansas grandparent and you have been unable to visit with your grandchildren, it is possible that you may be able to petition the court for the right to have a reasonable amount of visitation with them.
Under Kansas’ grandparent visitation statute, K.S.A. 38-129(a), a court may award a reasonable amount of visitation to grandparents of grandchildren who are under the age of eighteen if two criteria are met. The first of these criteria is that there must be a significant relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild. The second criterion is that an award of grandparent visitation must serve the best interest of the child.
In order to truly understand what the statutory criteria mean, it is useful to consider some examples. The first part of the grandparent visitation requires a significant relationship between grandparents and the grandchild or grandchildren that they seek to establish visitation with. Of course, if you have been kept out of your grandchildren’s lives, it is not possible for you to have established a relationship with them. You may show the court that you have tried, on numerous occasions, to become involved with your grandchildren. This argument is likely to be most persuasive if you have had a relationship with them in the past, or if their siblings have or have had a relationship with you in the past.
Before a court will award visitation rights to a grandparent, the court must also find that an award of visitation would serve the best interest of the child or children to whom it would apply. Since the major decisions which shape children’s day to day lives are made by their parents, courts consider the level of conflict between the grandparents seeking visitation and the parents of the grandchildren. If the court does not feel as though awarding visitation will create additional conflict which could have a negative impact on the children, then it would award visitation if the overall impact on the children of having visitation would likely be positive. Unfortunately, if the court feels that visitation would increase the level of conflict in the children’s home or have any other negative impact on the children, then visitation will not be granted.
It can be painful to miss out on spending time with your grandchildren, but it is possible that you may be able to see them again in the future. Kansas Family Law Attorney Thomas McDowell has helped grandparents just like you exercise their rights to visit with their grandchildren, and he would welcome the opportunity to help you. Please call (316) 633-4322 today, to schedule an initial consultation.