Everyone Benefits From Grandparent Visitation
The science is in. When children have a close relationship with their grandparents, everyone benefits. There have been a number of studies conducted on the effects of the grandparent bond, and all of the studies show positive outcomes associated with a closer bond.
Although you as a parent might have different views about parenting styles than your parents, as grandparents they are important in your child’s life. Grandparent visitation is a win-win for everyone.
Teens and adults alike tend to be happier and suffer less from depression when grandparents are regularly a part of their lives. The benefit remains even as grandchildren grow into adulthood.
Being an active part of a grandchild’s life can also increases a grandparent’s longevity. Grandparents who regularly babysit their grandchildren tend to live longer, healthier lives.
A close bond with a grandparent can reduce a child’s tendency toward depression, and it can do the same thing for a grandparent. Grandparents who have a close relationship with their grandchildren tend to experience less depression than their counterparts who do not have close relationships with their grandchildren.
These relationships are especially important for a grandchild living in a stressful situation. When there are family stressors such as divorce or financial issues, consistent grandparent visitation can be vital for good emotional health on all fronts.
Oklahoma Law and Grandparent Visitation
Within certain limitations, Oklahoma law recognizes a grandparent’s right to visitation with their grandchildren. As with all matters pertaining to children, Oklahoma courts are governed by the standard of the best interests of the child. A court can enforce grandparent visitation if it finds that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. However, a grandparent’s rights are always secondary to the parents’ rights, and cannot conflict with parental rights.
Oklahoma courts can enforce grandparent visitation when a grandparent has brought a petition seeking visitation and the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child to allow visitation.
Beyond a general finding that grandparent visitation is in a child’s best interests, the court must find that the child’s parents are either unfit or that the grandchild would be harmed without the visitation, and the child’s nuclear family has been dissolved or disrupted. All of these elements must be met in order for the court to order grandparent visitation.
Disruption of a child’s nuclear family can be a result of
- divorce, separation, or annulment;
- the death of one of a parent who is a child of the grandparent seeking visitation;
- one of the child’s parents is incarcerated for a felony;
- the child has been removed from the home and custody of the child has been given to a third party;
- the parents of the child have never been married and the relationship between grandparent and grandchild is strong and continuous;
- when the parental rights of one or both parents have been terminated and the bond between grandchild and grandparent is strong and continuous.
- the grandparent once had custody of the child;
- one of the parents has abandoned the other parent for more than a year and the relationship between grandchild and grandparent is strong and continuous.
However, the court will not grant visitation to any grandchild if the child is part of an intact family and both parents object to the granting of visitation.
Sometimes, the child of the grandparent dies and the grandchild is adopted by the new spouse of the surviving parent. In that case, the court may not terminate grandparent visitation of child unless it is in the best interests of the child and the grandparent has had a chance to appear in court.
Finally, grandparents of unmarried fathers or mothers who have had parental rights terminated have visitation only in very limited circumstances.
What Determines the Best Interests of the Child in Oklahoma?
For purposes of grandparent visitation, in determining the best interests of the child, the court may consider a number of factors including:
- the child’s need for, and the importance of continuing preexisting relationship with the grandparent, and where age-appropriate, the preference of the child,
- the grandparents’ willingness to encourage a close relationship between the child and the child’s parents,
- the length, quality and intimacy of the preexisting relationship between the child and the grandparent, and the grandparents’ willingness and efforts to continue that relationship,
- the love, affection and emotional ties between the parent and child,
- the motivation of parent or parents denying visitation,
- the mental and physical health, and moral fitness of the grandparent or grandparents, of the child and of the parents,
- the stability or lack of stability of the child’s home environment,
- the character and behavior of other people who either live in the home or who visit frequently,
- the amount of visitation time requested and any potential adverse impact on the child’s normal activities, and
- where both parents are deceased, the need and benefit of maintaining the preexisting relationship between grandparent and grandchild.
Grandparents visitation rights cases are “fact bound” — even small facts can tilt the scales and change the outcome of a case. If you are a grandparent seeking visitation, you will likely have many questions and concerns particular to your situation. You need someone who can show the court how your grandchildren will benefit from your love and concern. You need an Oklahoma grandparents rights attorney.
Consultation With a Tulsa Grandparents Visitation Attorney
Bring your questions and concerns to an Oklahoma grandparents visitation rights attorney who can help you understand your situation and needs. For a confidential no-obligation consultation to find out what a grandparents rights attorney can do for you, contact my office at (918) 994-1600 or click here to set up a consultation using our online request form.