While divorce clearly has an effect on the spouses and any children they may have, the dissolution of a marriage can also affect extended family members, as well. Grandparents in particular who have an especially close bond with their grandchildren may suffer in a divorce. In certain situations, a parent with primary custody will not allow the grandparents on the other side of the family to visit with the child for a variety of reasons. A parent also may withhold visitation rights after the death of the other parent.
Missouri family law1 recognizes that, under certain circumstances, grandparents have the right to have contact with their grandchildren and continue a meaningful relationship with them. For this reason, courts regularly grant grandparents visitation rights.
How can a grandparent request visitation?
There are two main methods of requesting that a court order visitation rights for a grandparent. First, if there is already a divorce case in progress, the grandparent(s) may join that case and a determination regarding visitation can be made as part of the overall divorce order. Second, if there is no divorce case pending, a grandparent may petition the court as a separate case.
Under the law, Missouri family courts will generally grant visitation rights to the grandparents if one of the following is true:
- After a divorce, one parent refuses to allow the grandparent to visit with the child;
- After a death, one parent refuses to allow the grandparent to visit with the child; or
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months in the prior two years.
In all cases, the court must find that visitation with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child and does not pose any threat of physical or emotional harm to the child.
Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Louis and St. Charles today
Whether you are a grandparent or parent, if you have any type of child custody2 or visitation issue, it is imperative that you contact an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Kenneth P. Carp has over 20 years of experience assisting individuals and families in the St. Louis area with a wide ranger of family law matters and understands how Missouri family laws apply to each case. Call our office for assistance at 636-947-3600 today.