Under a key case issued by the United States Supreme Court in 2000, Troxel v. Granville, it severely limited the ability of a third party, including grandparents to have custody, parenting time, or visitation with their grandchildren, unless they could establish they were de facto custodians and obtain custody in the grandchildren’s best interests.
However, Indiana does have a Grandparent Visitation Act, which can allow certain grandparents to obtain visitation with their grandchildren.
Grandparent may seek visitation with their grandchildren if the child’s parent is deceased or the parents have divorced. That said, a court cannot grant grandparent visitation rights to a paternal grandparent if the child who is born out of wedlock if the child’s father had not established paternity in relation to the child. Paternity, even though the technology exists, cannot be established after the fact to allow paternal grandparents to seek visitation under the law at this time.
This noted, a grandparent who seeks grandparent visitation must file a specific petition requesting same in the court having jurisdiction over the parents’ divorce proceedings or paternity case. At this point, good lawyering comes into play in determining the evidence to present to obtain grandparent visitation (it is not a given a grandparent who files for grandparent visitation will be awarded visitation).
Specifically, the court may grant visitation rights if it is in the child best interest. The most important evidence to present (which often takes significant work of grandparents and their counsel) is that the grandparents have had meaningful contact with the children. This may be established from journals, calendars (noting time with the grandchildren), photos and the like. Gathering these and establishing systematic visitation with the grandchild makes or breaks the case.
Because the child’s best interest is always paramount, the court may interview the child in chambers (the judge’s office) to assist it in determining the child’s perception of whether visitation by the grandparent is in the child’s best interests. In cases where the children have been alienated from the grandparents, this may present significant challenges for trial counsel. If the child is particularly young a bonding assessment may be necessary.
While grandparent visitation is limited (unless the grandparents can show they are de facto custodians and obtain custody), a skilled lawyer can help you develop your case and obtain the maximum time with your grandchildren. Alternatively, a skilled lawyer may defend a biological parent’s objections to grandparent visitation. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle all aspects of grandparent visitation.
Proven & experienced attorneys successfully advocating & resolving complex cases for over 25 years