Grandparents’ Rights In The State Of Ohio
While every legal matter is different, here are common grandparent rights cases in a nutshell.
“My daughter won’t let me see my grandchild.”
“I worry about my grandkids with my son in drug treatment.”
“My son and daughter-in-law are going through serious problems. Can I intervene?”
Grandparents (or other relatives) may feel they are needed in a child’s life, but what legal remedies do they have?
There are numerous remedies. Grandparents and other relatives have more rights in Ohio than in most states, including rights of custody and visitation, or companionship. But the law also recognizes the sovereignty of a child’s parents. The courts are not eager to deprive parents of their rights, so you will need an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to obtain the access you seek.
When Do Grandparents Have Companionship Or Visitation Rights?
There may be many scenarios in which a grandparent is granted visitation or companionship rights in Ohio, but three are specifically detailed in statute:
Scenario 1: The mother is unmarried. Maternal grandparents can seek companionship/visitation. If the father acknowledges paternity or is otherwise shown to be the father, the paternal grandparents can also seek companionship/visitation.
Scenario 2: One parent dies. After the death of one of the child’s parents, the parents of the deceased parent can petition for companionship and visitation rights.
Scenario 3: Married parents have separated or ended marriage through divorce/dissolution. This is one of the most common scenarios in which grandparents seek legal intervention. Courts will likely grant visitation, if doing so is in the best interests of the child.
How Can You Get Custody Of A Grandchild In Ohio?
Because laws and courts recognize the sovereignty of parents, it is more difficult to obtain custody of your grandchildren than it is to seek visitation rights. Parents can voluntarily give up custody, but if they don’t, you will need to prove that both parents are unfit or unsuitable to care for the children.
This is a difficult standard to meet. It is not enough to allege that the parents are making bad and selfish decisions. Instead, you must generally show that the parent or parents are directly causing serious harm to their kids. Alternatively, a parent may also be deemed unfit if they cannot be around to parent their children because they are facing a lengthy jail or prison sentence.
Do Step-grandparents Have Rights In Ohio?
It is possible for step-grandparents to seek visitation rights in Ohio. The success of a petition would likely depend on a number of factors, including how involved the step-grandparents have been in the child’s life, and importantly, whether granting visitation would be in the child’s best interests. It is important to seek an attorney’s help when pursuing visitation or custody rights.
Pursuing Custody With The Assistance Of A Skilled Attorney
Requesting custody is not complicated. You need only file a complaint or motion for custody. But courts will not grant custody unless you can demonstrate that both parents are unfit or unsuitable. It is up to the grandparent (or another relative) to persuade the court that it is clearly in the child’s best interests to be with him or her.
Custody should be requested as soon as it becomes apparent the child is at risk. If the change is necessary, it should be done immediately.
Do You Have Questions About Your Rights As A Grandparent?
At Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson of Columbus, our attorneys have been privileged to assist many relatives seeking a greater presence in children’s lives. We would be pleased to represent you as well.
Call us at 380-217-3322 or email us using this online form.