It is uncommon for a court to grant visitation rights to grandparents over the objection of the parents. This is so because in Maryland parents are presumed to act on the best interest of their children. There are two instances where the courts will grant visitation to the grandparents. The first is that the parents are found to be “unfit”. The second is that “exceptional circumstances” are found to exist.
Are there “exceptional circumstances” that support an award of grandparent visitation?
The court will consider specified factors when determining whether “exceptional circumstances” exist. They are:
- The length of time the child has been away from the biological parent
- The age of the child when care was assumed by the third party
- The possible emotional effect on the child of a change of custody
- The period of time which elapsed before the parent sought to reclaim the child
- The nature and strength of the ties between the child and the third party custodian
- The intensity and genuineness of the parent’s desire to have the child
- The stability and certainty as to the child’s future in the custody of the parent
These factors are not exclusive. The court will consider factors particular to your circumstances.
Will the court find the parents unfit?
Like a finding of “exceptional circumstances” the court will consider certain factors when determining whether a child’s parents are unfit. The factors are:
- The parent has neglected the child by manifesting such indifference to the child’s welfare that it reflects a lack of intent or an inability to discharge his or her parental duties
- The parent has abandoned the child
- There is evidence that the parent inflicted or allowed another person to inflict physical or mental injury on the child, including, but not limited to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- The parent suffers from an emotional or mental illness that has a detrimental impact on the parent’s ability to care and provide for the child
- The parent otherwise demonstrates a renunciation of his or her duties to care and provide for the child
- The parent has engaged in behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the child’s welfare.
Just like with exceptional circumstances, the factors listed above are not exclusive. The court will consider factors that are unique to your circumstances.
Can Grandparents Request For Grandchildren’s Custody?
A grandparent does not really have a special status when seeking custody, or visitation, of a child as compared to third-parties. Grandparents are looked at third parties. A third party can be awarded custody or visitation based on the factors set forth above. In addition, the court will look at the relationship between the third party and the child. The court must find either “exceptional circumstances” or that the parents are unfit.
Are The Visitation Rights Stopped If Child Is Adopted?
Suppose the child is adopted by any other person other than the stepparent, then the grandparents will lose custody and visitation rights. The rights are transferred to the new adoptive grandparents.
Visit An Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you are a grandparent seeking the custody and visitation rights of your grandchildren, then you need to make a petition request in the court seeking the visitation orders of your grandchildren. You can notify all the persons involved in the case.
If you have any questions about your grandchildren’s visitation rights, you need to contact an experienced divorce attorney. Paré & Associates, LLC (formerly Law Office of Alice Paré), has been helping clients in Germantown, Clarksburg, throughout Montgomery County and all of Maryland for more than thirty (30) years.
We are an experienced Men’s Family Law Attorney in Germantown, Maryland. Contact us for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys are available to meet with you in person, over the phone, or online – however, you prefer.