Grandparents often play a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren, building meaningful relationships and serving as part of the child’s support system. The state of Indiana recognizes this and allows for courts to grant grandparents visitation or custody rights, but only under certain circumstances. The court will need to determine if grandparent visitation or custody is in the best interest of the child, and establishing this through evidence can be difficult. If your family is facing a grandparent rights issue, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney.
When Can Grandparents Seek Visitation in Indiana?
Grandparents may be able to seek visitation rights in Indiana if:
- The grandchild’s parent is dead
- The grandchild’s parents are divorced
- The child was born outside of marriage. For paternal grandparents, this will only apply if paternity has been established.
Paternal grandparents are the parents of the child’s father. If the child was born outside of marriage and paternity has not been established, the paternal grandparents will not be able to seek visitation rights.
What Factors Determine the Best Interests of a Child in Grandparent Rights Cases?
As mentioned, when considering whether to grant grandparents visitation rights, a court will attempt to determine if continuing the relationship with the grandparent is in the child’s best interest. To do this, the court will look for evidence that the grandparent has been active, or attempted to be active, in the child’s life.
The court will also give consideration to the parents’ wishes. It is generally presumed that a fit parent has the right to make decisions that are in their child’s best interest, and so the court will often give added weight to the parents’ wishes. They may also take into consideration the relationship between the grandparent and the parent.
Can Indiana Grandparents Be Granted Custody of a Grandchild?
A third-party, including a grandparent, may obtain custody of a child if they are considered the child’s “de facto custodian.” This essentially means that the grandparent has provided the child with significant and ongoing care for a considerable amount of time.
Just like visitation rights, third-party custody is only possible in a limited set of circumstances, and the court will give great consideration to the wishes of the child’s parent. This can make it difficult for grandparents to gain custody, and working with a skilled grandparents’ rights attorney may help increase your chances of being successful.
Work with a Trusted Grandparents Rights Lawyer
At The Bellinger Law Office, we understand how important it can be for children and grandparents to maintain strong relationships, especially if the child is already facing major changes in his or her life. We also know how emotionally sensitive and draining these matters can be, and that’s why our firm is dedicated to providing compassionate, knowledgeable guidance when you need it most. We’ve helped many people in the Fort Wayne area resolve their tough family law challenges, and we may be able to help you too. To learn how our grandparents’ rights attorney can help advocate for you, contact our office today.