There are many factors that can tear a family apart. Divorce, incarceration, the death of a parent, and drug or alcohol abuse are all common triggers for the splintering of a family. When these situations occur, grandparents do have certain legal rights and can seek visitation with their grandchildren or even custody in some scenarios. Grandparents’ rights vary greatly by state. It is important that you understand your rights as a grandparent to help ensure your relationship with your grandchild does not end even if your grandchild’s relationship with your adult child does.
Grandparents’ Rights Today
In every state, grandparents have the right, under some circumstances, to be awarded custody or visitation with their grandchildren. These rights are not constitutional and most states have only begun recognizing them within the past 35 years.
In recent years, a number of courts have struck down state statutes providing visitation to grandparents as unconstitutional. The case of Troxel v. Granville, decided in 2000, dealt a blow to the grandparents’ rights movement. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a Washington state visitation statute violated the due process rights of the parents to raise their own children. This case spurred several states to reconsider and amend their visitation statutes so as not to run afoul of due process.
Grandparents’ Rights in Kansas
Kansas has fairly liberal grandparents’ rights but you must still meet several important requirements to obtain visitation with your grandchild when visitation has been denied by the grandchild’s parent or parents.
The court will consider two factors in Kansas in considering awarding visitation: the existence of a substantial relationship and that visitation is in the child’s best interests. A substantial relationship can be established by showing a history of frequent visits, overnight visits, your grandchild living with you for a period of time, contact with your grandchild, whether it be over the phone, internet, or some other means, and any other attempts you have made to be a part of the child’s life.
Next, the court will evaluate the potential positive impact of having you in the grandchild’s life. The court will look to the child’s current home life, any problems going on in the home, as well as the grandparent’s home life and what it could bring, positive or negative, to the grandchild.
In addition to these two central factors, the court will consider the parent or parent’s opinions as to the visitation and reasons for objecting to the visitation. The court will also take into account the wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to provide a reasoned opinion on the matter.
It is important for all grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchildren recognize that the legal presumption is against them. There is a presumption that the parent is fit and will always act in the child’s best interests. As such, a grandparent will need to overcome this presumption in order to succeed with a grandparents’ rights case.
McDowell Chartered: Assisting In Grandparents’ Rights Matters
If you are a grandparent who is unable to see your grandchildren, the Kansas Family Law Attorneys at McDowell Chartered may be able to help. We understand the importance of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren and will do all we can to see that you are able to having a loving relationship with your grandchildren. Grandparents’ rights cases are complex but our experienced attorneys have in-depth knowledge as to the requirements for this unique form of rights. For legal services of unmatched excellence, call McDowell Chartered today at (316) 633-4322 for an initial consultation.