Tulsa, OK Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Monday, February 22, 2016

Grandparents Have Rights Too!

What are the grandparent visitation rights in Oklahoma?

Unfortunately, many marriages end in separation or divorce which can have dramatic consequences on the entire family, including grandparents. The divorce process involves resolving a number of issues, including child custody and visitation rights. Courts generally prefer to grant legal and physical custody of children to both parents.

In cases where a court awards one parent sole physical custody, however, it usually awards the non-custodial parent reasonable visitation rights. Of course, giving the complexities of family life today, grandparents also have visitation rights.

The laws regarding grandparent visitation rights in Oklahoma are detailed, designed to grant visitation rights to grandparents providing such visitations are in the best interests of the child. In order to be granted these rights, a grandparent must be able to show that the child would suffer harm without visitation, or that the parents are unfit.

What factors do the courts consider is granting grandparent visitation rights?

In determining what is in the best interest of the child, the law provides for a number of factors, including:

  • The importance to the child of continuing the relationship with the grandparent
  • The age and preference of the child
  • The emotional ties between the parent and child
  • The nature of the preexisting grandparental relationship
  • The mental and physical health of the grandparent
  • The mental and physical health of the child
  • The mental and physical health of the parent
  • The permanence and stability of the family unit and environment

Parental Unfitness

In some cases, parental unfitness may also be grounds for grandparent visitation rights. Parental unfitness includes:

  • Chemical or alcohol dependency
  • A history of violent behavior or domestic abuse
  • An emotional or mental illness that impairs judgment
  • A failure to provide the child with proper care, guidance and support

In most cases, visitation rights also require that there was a strong, continuous pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild. Finally, a number of situations can arise that lead to visitation rights being sought, such as death, divorce, incarceration and desertion. If you are seeking visitation rights of your grandchild, you should consult with an attorney who has expertise in family law.

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