As a family law firm with over two decades of experience one of the questions we are often asked is, “Do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren?”
The answer is yes.
Biological grandparents are protected by grandparent’s rights under Missouri law.
Not only do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren, developing a strong relationship with their grandparents can be incredibly beneficial for children.
grandparents do have a legal right to see their grandchildren regardless of their relationship with the child’s parents.
The animosity between grandparents and parents should not be the basis for denying visitation rights.
Common Visitation Situations
There are several situations where grandparents may need to take legal action to preserve their rights.
If the children’s parents have decided to end the marriage a grandparent is allowed to intervene only in matters of visitation rights.
One Surviving Parent
If the unfortunate happens and one of the parents has passed away the surviving parent may for whatever reason choose to deny visitation.
Living in Their Home for Six Months
In some situations, grandparents can invoke their legal rights when the child has been living in their home for six months.
The Best Interest Of The Child
the courts are required to rule in favor of what is best for the children.
Missouri law protects grandparent’s legal rights. However, it is the responsibility of the grandparent to prove to the court their visitation is in the best interest of their grandchildren.
Oftentimes, the court may start with the presumption that the parents are acting in their child’s best interests.
If the grandparents are able to prove visitation is in the best interest of the child’s well-being the court should grant the request.
When determining what is in the child’s best interest the court may take several factors into consideration. Ultimately what is in the best interest of the child will be determined based upon how the situation affects the child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
When parents deny visitation rights for grandparents, the court will take the presented evidence into account before making their decision.
In most cases, the court will also take into consideration if the child has a strong desire to maintain a relationship with their grandparents.
Grandparents must also prove visiting with the child on a routine basis is in the child’s best interests.
A skilled family law firm will be able to help you gather and present the proof you need to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren.
A Court Appointed Representative
A practice that’s common when determining do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren is to make use of a guardian ad litem. The courts appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interests in the courtroom. The Guardian ad litem will be a lawyer who is licensed to practice in Missouri.
In most circumstances, the Guardian ad litem participates in the legal proceedings as if they were a party in the dispute.
Do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren? In the eyes of the law, yes. As we’ve seen, dealing with grandparent’s rights can lead you into a complex situation. We recommend consulting an experienced family law firm to determine if a grandparent’s legal rights are being denied.