Family Law: What Are Grandparents' Rights?
Many parents agree that there is no love like that between a parent and child, but grandparents often argue that the bond with their grandchildren is even better, because it comes with all of the joys of raising a child and less of the work. Unfortunately, if a marital relationship becomes strained, or if something happens to a child’s parents, grandparents may worry about the relationship with their grandchildren being negatively impacted.
Family law and grandparents’ rights attorneys at Froerer & Miles help clients in the Ogden, UT, area navigate these types of situations and assert their grandparent rights, so that they can continue to spend time with their grandchildren and nurture that relationship. Here we go over some of the basic grandparent rights afforded to grandparents under Utah law.
When parents are going through a divorce, one of the most important matters to be settled is a child custody/visitation agreement. These types of agreements exist only between the child’s parents, and do not include third parties, like grandparents.
Ideally, if grandparents are concerned about losing time with their grandchildren after a divorce, they should talk to the child’s parents and ask that time be arranged for visitation. Unfortunately, parents are not always agreeable. If the grandparents’ own child has passed away and the other parent is not willing to work on such an arrangement, or if the relationship with both parents is strained, grandparents may need to consider their legal options.
Utah family law allows grandparents to sue for visitation rights. A petition for grandparent visitation rights must be filed through the juvenile court. Prior to filing a petition, grandparents should understand that Utah operates under the premise of “rebuttable presumption.” This means that the court assumes that a parent’s decision regarding visitation is in a child’s best interest. To gain visitation rights, grandparents need to present evidence to show that the decision is actually not in the child’s best interest, and that denying grandparent visitation is harmful to the child.
Under certain circumstances, Utah law allows grandparents to seek custody of their grandchildren. Grandparents may obtain custody by filing for guardianship, by filing an independent lawsuit under a law called the “Custody for Persons Other Than a Parent Act,” or through a juvenile court action. Typically, grandparents are only granted custody in one of the following situations:
- The child’s parents sign over guardianship
- The child’s parents are dead, missing, or otherwise incapacitated
- The court finds parents to be unfit and/or parental rights are terminated (often due to neglect, abuse, or dependency issues)
Working with a Family Law Attorney
Whether a grandparent is seeking visitation or custody of their grandchildren, working with a knowledgeable family law attorney is extremely beneficial. Lawyers at Froerer & Miles understand Utah family laws and can assist grandparents in the Ogden area in determining the best course of legal action to protect the relationship they have with their grandchildren.
If you have questions about your legal rights as a grandparent, the lawyers at Froerer & Miles would be happy to address your concerns. To schedule a personal consultation with our legal team, send us a message online, or call our Ogden law firm at (801) 876-1124.