There is no statutory right to grandparent visitation when a child’s family is still intact. However, the court may grant grandparent visitation 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, so long as the court determines that granting the grandparents visitation rights is in the best interest of the child. R.C. 3109.12(B). 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:
- (1) the child’s prior interaction and interrelationships with parents, siblings, and other persons related by consanguinity or affinity;
- (2) the geographical location of the relevant residences and the distance between them;
- (3) the available time, including, but not limited to, each parent’s employment schedule, the child’s school schedule and the child’s and the parents’ holiday and vacation schedule;
- (4) the child’s age;
- (5) the child’s adjustment to home, school and community;
- (6) the child’s wishes and concerns as expressed to the court, if the court interviewed the child in chambers;
- (7) the child’s health and safety;
- (8) the amount of time that will be available for the child to spend with siblings;
- (9) the mental and physical health of all parties;
- (10) willingness to reschedule missed visitation;
- (11) and (12) concerns of abuse or neglect;
- (13) whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time;
- (14) whether either parent has established a residence or is planning to establish a residence outside this state;
- (15) in relation to requested companionship or visitation by a person other than a parent, the wishes and concerns of the child’s parents, as expressed by them to the court; and
- (16) any other factor in the best interest of the child. R.C. 3109.051(D)
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. 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.