Ohio Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child. While raising children in modern times is heavily geared toward parents providing nearly all childcare, there are still times when other adults play significant roles in children’s lives. Those people often include grandparents, other close relatives, and even family friends. Often, parents have relationships with those individuals that naturally allow children to see them. Much of the time, this kind of informal arrangement works great for family structures.
Unfortunately, not all families can work together so easily. Some parents do not get along with their family members, including their children’s grandparents, which can result in numerous childrearing disputes. A more common situation arises when one or both of the parents struggles with a substance abuse disorder that prevents them from providing the parenting the children need to succeed. When this happens, someone else may want to step in and fill this role for the child. In other rare but unfortunate situations, parents may unexpectedly pass away, leaving children needing long-term caregiving. These situations can lead grandparents and other individuals to request custody or visitation with someone else’s children.
If you’re a grandparent curious about child custody, we invite you to consult with an experienced family law attorney to understand your options & rights.
Ohio Grandparents’ Rights Information Center
Hiring An Attorney To Establish Grandparent Visitation Rights In Ohio
If you are a grandparent or other significant person in a child’s life and want to learn more about visitation, hiring an experienced family law attorney is the recommended way to ensure the best outcome for your case. At Joslyn Law Firm, we are familiar with visitation cases and understand that children have many people in their lives who want the best things for them. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, lead attorney Brian Joslyn and his team are some of the finest lawyers in the area. Rue Ratings, a highly prestigious organization dedicated to finding and promoting the finest legal representation in the country, selected Brian Joslyn as one of the Best Attorneys in the United States. He was also nominated by The National Trial Lawyers Association as a Top 100 Trial Attorney. When you work with Joslyn Law Firm, rest assured that you are in good hands. Call us today at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online. We serve clients in Franklin, Pickaway, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union, and Fairfield counties.
Third-Party Visitation Laws In Ohio
Unlike many other states, Ohio has more generous laws for third parties who want to request visitation time. Third parties include grandparents, relatives, and other persons in the child’s life. However, these laws do not provide third parties absolute rights to visitation with children. A court can grant reasonable visitation to third parties when:
- A person seeking visitation files a motion with the court;
- The court determines that the person has an interest in the child’s welfare; and
- The court determines that granting visitation is in the child’s best interest.
In addition to the above, visitation can generally be granted under the following circumstances:
- Parents are separating or getting divorced;
- Parents are unmarried when the child is born; or
- If one or both parents pass away (grandparents and other relatives only).
For parents who are unmarried and the father has not legally claimed the child as his, only the mother’s parents can motion the court for third-party visitation. Well-meaning grandparents and others in a child’s life often find these laws unfair. This is understandable, as missing out on such significant life experiences with a child can bring unpleasant and long-term hard feelings.
Who Are Relatives And “Other Persons” That Could Qualify For Visitation?
Ohio law specifically identifies grandparents because they are more likely than other family members to request visitation. This makes sense, as grandparents typically play a larger role in children’s lives than extended family members or family friends. The law also identifies “other relatives,” which often include the child’s aunts and uncles. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the birth, such as the age of the mother and/or the father, there may be several other family members who are in a position to have an interest in the child’s welfare.
“Other Persons” is a much broader category, and often, it can require more effort to show why an unrelated person should have court-ordered time with a child. Imagine a child’s parents separate when the child is very young. One parent eventually finds a new partner and gets married. Stepparents can sometimes play a significant role in the upbringing of stepchildren. If the stepparent and mother divorce before the child turns 18, the stepparent may wish to request visitation time by filing a motion.
Why Are There Limitations On Third-Party Visitation Requests?
Laws usually limit third-party visitation because of parents’ fundamental right to make choices for their children. In Troxel v. Granville, a United States Supreme Court case, the justices stated that fit parents have a fundamental right to parent and make decisions regarding their children. In other words, fit parents are granted ultimate authority to decide what happens to their children, including whom they spend time with. Especially when parents are living together and jointly raising their children, the law is far less likely to tell parents who should or should not be in their children’s lives.
However, the Supreme Court in Ohio ruled in Harrold v. Collier that Ohio’s visitation laws accommodate both parents’ preferences and the child’s best interests. Sometimes, the child’s best interests may mean third parties, like grandparents, get visitation time with children even if the parents do not approve of it.
Best Interest Factors
If you are a grandparent or other important person in a child’s life and want to have court-ordered visitation with a child, the law requires that the visitation is in the child’s best interests. Judges review several “best interest factors,” some of which may be more appropriate for your case than others. The following factors include:
- The interactions/interrelationships between the child and parents, other important individuals, and the third party who requested visitation rights;
- The distances between the residences of the child and the person requesting visitation;
- The parents’ availability, school and work schedules, holiday and vacation schedules;
- The children’s ages;
- The children’s adjustment to home, school, and a community;
- The children’s health and safety;
- The parents and third party’s willingness to reschedule parenting time as needed;
- Suspected or recorded criminal convictions of child abuse/neglect;
- Whether a parent has moved or has plans to move to a different state;
- The parents’ wishes/concerns regarding a third party; and
- Any other important information that should be included.
Courts can also consider children’s opinions and preferences regarding visitation time with grandparents and other third parties. The judge can choose to interview children, or a parent can request an interview. If an interview occurs, the results can play a large factor in deciding the visitation schedule.
Whether or not interviews occur heavily depends on a child’s age and maturity. Judges may struggle to get important information from a 5-year-old, but older children can be especially honest and reveal their needs and wishes. Older children are often able to respond reasonably to questions about spending time with their parents, grandparents, etc., and why they want something to stay the same or change. Even judges know that telling a teenager what to do is a huge challenge, so if teenagers want to continue spending time with the person seeking visitation and it’s in their best interest, a judge may be more likely to grant the visitation time.
Consulting with a grandparents rights lawyer can prove to be invaluable. Grandparents often take a parental role in their grandchildren’s lives, and in many cases, deserve the same visitation or custody rights as parents. Indeed, grandparent’s rights are critical yet often overlooked in child custody cases. Our Columbus Ohio family lawyers have vast experience in establishing child custody and visitation or custody rights. Contact a grandparents rights lawyer at Joslyn Law Firm today.
How Does A Parent’s Remarriage Or Adoption Impact Visitation Rights?
Sometimes grandparents or others interested in obtaining visitation worry if the changing status of the child or one of the parents will impact visitation. Under Ohio law, a residential parent’s remarriage does not impact whether a court can grant visitation to grandparents or any other person. A “residential parent” is the parent in a custody and parenting time agreement that holds the child’s primary residence.
Adoption of a child can be different depending on the circumstances. However, the general rule is that courts can still grant visitation to grandparents or other relatives of a child’s deceased parent. In other words, if a father dies and the mother denies the father’s parents access, the father’s parents can ask the court to grant them visitation. This is true even if the mother remarries and has her second husband adopt the child.
Third-party visitation is often an emotionally touchy and sensitive topic for families involved. The law tends to be more complex, and without an experienced attorney, they can be harder cases to win. If you have questions about a possible third-party visitation case, please call our office at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
What If Parents Refuse To Follow Court-Ordered Visitation?
A court-ordered visitation schedule is required to clearly state the days and times the parents, grandparents, or other third parties have time with the children. If a parent, for example, declines to follow the visitation schedule, the grandparent or whoever has the visitation can motion the court to enforce the order.
Penalties for those who refuse to follow court orders can include:
- Guilty of contempt of court;
- Pay fines;
- Compensatory visitation time to the person denied time;
- Payment of attorneys fees; and
- Other penalties the court decides are appropriate for the circumstances.
If you already have court-ordered visitation with a child and the parents are not following the schedule, please call our office at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
Is Mediation Right For You?
Courts can order parents to participate in mediation for parenting time schedules. However, courts generally cannot order parents and third parties to mediate over visitation. Mediation can be a more cost-effective and incredible tool for both parents and the person seeking visitation if all sides agree to participate and it is appropriate for the circumstances.
Mediation is, in a sense, like group therapy in that both sides can express their concerns openly and confidentially. The greatest benefit is that the parties get to agree on what a visitation schedule would look like rather than have a judge decide for the parties involved. Parents, grandparents, and other third parties can often have tunnel vision when they think about sharing visitation time with children. If you are interested in mediation, remember that there are many options available to all parties involved, including:
- Weekly or monthly visits;
- Additional or “bonus” times at the child’s school events or other events;
- Short vacations and holidays; and
- Summer vacation and winter break.
A mediated agreement often leaves parties more empowered because they have made decisions and can feel better about compromises. After all, parents and the third party know the child’s circumstances better than a judge, so a mutual decision is often preferred over one person deciding for everyone. When parties reach an agreement, they present it to the judge. Judges are likely to approve the agreement assuming it is fair and reflective of the child’s best interests.
Hiring An Award-Winning Attorney In Ohio
If you are a grandparent or other important person in a child’s life and want to obtain custody or get visitation time, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm are to help you achieve the best outcome for your case. As an award-winning lawyer, lead attorney Brian Joslyn has the experience and skills to fight for you aggressively. Please call our office at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
We serve clients in Franklin, Pickaway, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union, and Fairfield counties.
What Our Clients Say
Read this 5-star Google review below regarding a complex family law case in Columbus OH
“Very kind and caring attorneys and staff. Would refer to anyone in need of a family law attorney.”
By: Abby Farber
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!
This page was last updated by Brian Joslyn