Can You Fight for Visitation Rights to See Your Grandchildren if a Parent Moves Them Away?

People know that child custody may be an issue when two people who have children together get divorced. However, custody matters can come into play in a variety of situations, and sometimes they involve grandparents. Understanding how grandparent’s rights are established and managed in Indiana is important if you want to protect your relationship and connection to a grandchild.

Some Basics of Grandparent Rights in Child Custody Cases

Indiana law does provide some provisions for grandparent’s visitation rights. However, these rights only exist in certain cases. Under Indiana law, you have a right to seek court-compelled visitation in the following scenarios:

  • Your adult child, who was the parent of the grandchild or grandchildren in question, has passed away
  • The parents of the child or children have gone through a divorce in Indiana
  • The grandchild in question was born out of wedlock and the father has already established paternity following Indiana legal requirements

However, the Indiana family courts are concerned with doing what is in the best interest of the child. While grandparent visitation rights may be somewhat limited, you can petition the court if you believe that your grandchild is in danger or being neglected. In such a case, you may not be seeking visitation but custody of the child.

The types of situations where a grandparent might seek custody of a grandchild tend to be complex. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you understand whether you have an option for doing this and what challenges you might face.

Can a Custodial Parent Move a Child Away From Family?

Grandparents are typically not part of the process when a custodial parent wants to relocate. Usually, however, the custodial parent does have to notify the other parent of the move, and they may also have to notify the court of their intended plans. Depending on how custody agreements are structured and whether the non-custodial parent has any objections to the move, the court may need to approve the move and any new custody arrangements related to it.

However, there are many cases where the non-custodial parent is deceased, absentee, or otherwise not legally involved. This doesn’t mean that all the grandparents are not involved. For example, consider a hypothetical situation in which the father of a child has passed away. The mother may have worked to ensure the child still has a relationship with his or her father’s parents.

But what if the mother remarries and her husband is offered a job across the state? This can make it more difficult for the grandparents to continue to have a connection with the child. In many cases, how well they can manage such a relationship is up to the mother and whether she continues to support it. Because the father passed away, however, the grandparents would have an option for seeking visitation under the law and forcing the mother to work with them so they could see their grandchild.

What Happens When the Custodial Parent Is Estranged?

In some cases, the chasm between grandparents and grandchildren is not a long physical distance. It may be a disagreement or other issue between the grandparents and the custodial parent. Unfortunately, if the situation doesn’t fall into one of the categories where grandparents have a right to seek visitation under Indiana law, you may find yourself without a lot of options in these cases. Again, if the parent is providing a safe and healthy home, courts tend to uphold their rights to decide who children will see.

What Options Do You Have in Protecting Your Grandparents’ Rights?

Indiana courts presuppose that a parent who is fit to care for a child will make decisions in the best interest of the child. As a grandparent seeking visitation rights, you may need to demonstrate that the parent’s decisions in this matter are not in the child’s best interest. Courts consider numerous factors in such cases, such as whether the child previously had a relationship with you that he or she is now being denied.

Some grandparents do get to see their grandchildren, but they don’t think it’s enough. Perhaps you only see your grandchild once per year, for example. If you already see your grandchild but it’s not as much as you might like, you might be able to seek additional visitation via the courts. However, here too, the courts are likely to support the decisions of a fit parent.

When Should You Work With a Family Law Attorney?

One of the best ways to ensure you can see your grandchildren is to speak to their parent or parents. If there are challenges with the grandparent/parent relationship, you may need to work to resolve them so you can agree to visitation options.

However, if you have already tried this and the custodial parent refuses to allow you visitation, you may have some legal options for seeking a visitation order from the court. These options are only viable in specific situations, so it’s a good idea to talk to a family law attorney to understand what might be possible in your case.

If you want to find out about grandparent’s rights and how you can get more visitation with your grandchildren, contact the Deidre Haynes Law Office at 317-785-1832.