Throughout the adoption process, there are a variety of individuals who have certain rights when it comes to a child. In Kansas, in addition to the parents and the child, the grandparents of a child can also have certain rights. The grandparents specifically have the ability to ask the court for rights when it comes to visitation and custody. Although grandparents can ask for certain rights, they are not guaranteed, and the courts will balance and consider many factors when assessing what rights it affords a child’s grandparents. Ultimately the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child and will evaluate all of the facts and relationships when making its determination.
When Grandparents are Prohibited from Visitation
If a grandparent or grandparents feel the child would benefit from spending time with them on a short-term or long-term basis, they can ask the court to legally create that ability and afford them that right. The grandparent(s) must prove to the court that the child would be better off with them, or that it is necessary for the child to be in their care rather than the biological parents.
The need to ask the court to legally grant the grandparent(s) permission to have time with the child often occurs if there is a less than ideal relationship between them and the child’s parent or parents. This may happen when one of the child’s parents has died and the remaining parent prohibits the grandparent(s) from spending time with the child. Unfortunately, if a parent has lost their rights to the child, meaning the court has terminated their rights for some reasons, the court may be unable to afford the grandparents any visitation rights either.
How Grandparents Can Begin the Visitation Process
A grandparent can begin the process of getting visitation of their grandchild by petitioning the court and having a judge hear their matter. This means a grandparent would file a petition stating why they feel they should be given rights to spend more time with a child. At a hearing, the judge will evaluate all testimony given and make a decision based on two main factors. He or she will assess what type of relationship the child and the grandparent(s) have. The grandparent must show there has been time spent and a developed close connection between them and the child. This time and connection does not have to be recent but it must be substantial, relevant and positive. If a grandparent has made efforts to see the child and maintain a close relationship however the parents have prohibited this connection, the grandparent must discuss this with the judge so they understand your efforts and the circumstance.
The Child’s Best Interests
The grandparent also has the duty to prove to the court that it is in the child’s best interest to live with or spend time with them. They must show that their current living environment is not healthy, or is not as healthy as it would be living with them. They should be prepared to discuss healthy habits, education, how they will be provided for and sheltered, etc. They will also evaluate the relationship between the grandparents and parents to ensure granting visitation wouldn’t create more tension and negative interactions between the two at the expense of the child’s well being. The laws surrounding child visitation and custody presume that a child’s parent is fit and will act in the best interest in the child. Although this is not always the case, the court will take objections from the child’s parents into serious consideration. Objections do not make grandparent’s rights impossible, they just may make the burden on the grandparents to prove the best interest of the child a bit more challenging.
If you are the grandparent of a child who you wish to gain custody or visitation rights of, let us help you get the proper care you seek for your grandchild. We put the child’s best interest first, and will help you through the process to see that they are properly cared for by the right people. The process can easily be handled with the help of an experienced team of attorneys who are knowledgeable in areas of visitation and custody. Call the qualified Kansas Family Law Attorney at McDowell Chartered Legal Services today at (316) 633-4322 to see how we can successfully assist you in your adoption matter.