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Do Grandparents Have Rights To Visitation?

There is no statutory right to grandparent visitation when a child’s family is still intact. However, the court may grant grandparent visitation rights (known legally as “companionship rights”) in some situations, such as if the child’s parents are unmarried, if the child’s parents file for a divorce or dissolution, or if one of the child’s parents has died. In determining whether to grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparents of a child, “the court shall consider all relevant factors.” The best interest factors contained in R.C. 3109.051(D) include the following:

  • The concerns of the parents
  • The age of the child
  • The child’s safety, health and welfare
  • Previous interaction with the child’s parents and other relatives
  • The available time of the child and his/her parents
  • The location of the grandparents’ house and its distance from the child’s residence
  • How well the child has adjusted to their home, community and school environment
  • The child’s expressed wishes, if they have been interviewed by the judge in the judge’s chambers
  • The amount of time available for the child to visit his/her siblings
  • The mental health and physical health of all parties involved
  • Whether the person seeking companionship rights or grandparent visitation rights has ever been convicted or pleaded guilty to a crime involving the abuse or neglect of a child

Because the right to parent one’s child is a fundamental right and because fundamental rights are protected by a strict scrutiny analysis, the extreme deference to the parent’s wishes can only be overcome by a compelling government interest and overwhelmingly clear circumstances supporting narrowly tailored government interference. Some compelling government interests for grandparent visitation are: (1) to protect a child from physical or mental harm; (2) a parens patriae interest in preserving a child’s welfare where that child is dependent, abused, neglected, or has an unfit parent; and (3) where the grandparents have acted as de facto parents.

Since there is a presumption that parents always act in the best interests of their child, it may be difficult for a grandparent to prove that over a parent’s objection that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Thus, it is important to contact an attorney who has experience with these matters in order to establish and enforce your rights.

Providing Experienced Counsel On Companionship Rights

At The Lampe Law Office, LLC, we have dealt with a great deal of grandparent visitation cases, and we will be able to provide you with comprehensive advice regarding your rights as a grandparent. Contact our grandparents’ rights and family lawyers at 513-889-0400 to arrange a consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren County regions.