In New Hampshire family law cases centering around child custody and visitation, people may function under the assumption that it is solely between parents as they decide where the child will live, who will make decisions and what the parenting time template will be. However, grandparents are often involved in a case and could have visitation rights. Understanding how state law addresses this potentially complicated issue is imperative. It may also be crucial to have legal advice in case there is acrimony or outright refusal to allow the grandparents to see a child.
When might a court decide to grant visitation rights to grandparents?
For grandparents to be given the right to see a child, the court will assess certain factors. They include: if the child’s best interests are being served by the visitation and maintaining a relationship with the grandparent; if the parent or parents’ authority would be usurped and interfered with if the grandparent is granted visitation; the status of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild; the status of the relationship between the grandparent and the child’s parent or parents; individual circumstances that might have negatively impacted the so-called “nuclear” family; if the child has any preferences and is of sufficient maturity to express it; other factors that the court wishes to give weight.
The relationships between grandparent and grandchild and grandparent and the child’s parent may warrant special attention when the decision is made. The frequency with which the child had contact with the grandparent prior to the marital breakdown and divorce will be key. If the child had resided with the grandparent, that will undoubtedly be a vital factor. The child’s physical and emotional development and health cannot be harmed by visitation or lack of visitation. It is unfortunate that some relationships between a grandparent and parent may be rife with dispute, but this too could be a challenge. The court must address this acrimony and decide if it will hinder the child.
Grandparents should understand their rights and have legal protection
For grandparents who are concerned about a grandchild and are seeking visitation or even child custody, having legal assistance may be one of the main factors in achieving their goals. Before allowing a case to grow contentious, perhaps negotiation could be effective. If it does need to go to court, having experienced legal advice is key. In any case, calling for a consultation is a wise step and can provide advice and help.