GRANDPARENTS & CHILD CUSTODY RIGHTS & VISITATION
Attorneys Helping Grandparents Exercise Their Rights
In the state of Virginia, there is no statute dedicated exclusively to grandparents’ visitation rights. Instead, Virginia addresses custody and visitation in the same set of statutes. The Virginia courts also recognize the rights of grandparents are secondary to parents. In Virginia, parents enjoy a very high level of protection from the perceived intrusion of third parties such as grandparents into their relationships with their children.
If you are a grandparent who has questions about seeking custody and visitation of your grandchildren, it is important for you to know how the courts handle these types of custody situations. In order to do that, we need to first look at two sections of the Virginia Code. A Grandparent can successfully rebut the parental presumption; the grandparent then must prove that gaining custody of the child would be in the child’s best interests.
Courts in a number of states have ruled that statutes providing for grandparent visitation violate either the federal or the respective state constitutions. Each state has different rules governing grandparent visitation. Several states have revised the statutory visitation provisions, but the constitutionality of these statutes may still be in question. If an intermediate appellate court in a particular state has ruled a visitation statute unconstitutional, it does not necessarily render the statute invalid.
Several states specifically include consideration of grandparents as custodians if both parents are deceased. If either or both parents are alive, courts presume that a parent is the best person to recognize a child’s physical and emotional needs, and make choices that serve the child’s best interests. Grandparents must generally prove the parent’s unfit in order to overcome the judicial presumption in favor of the parent. Even if the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild is strong, it is generally very difficult for a grandparent to attain custody of a grandchild against the wishes of the parent or parents.
Some families have long-term communication problems, control, and boundary issues. In some cases, there may be substance abuse or other chronic problems among the generations. Quite often, there has been a change in the family, such as divorce or a relationship breakup, or the death of a parent. Most often, we hear from paternal grandparents who cannot see their grandchildren because their current or ex-daughter-in-law does not want them to. Unfortunately, when parents break up, often the extended family gets shut out as well.
Grandparents should not lose hope when they are contemplating filing for custody of their grandchildren or filing for rights to spend time with them. However, it is critical that grandparents who are seeking to implement their rights, ensure that the attorney is familiar with the case laws in Virginia and Maryland, pertaining to custody and rights to spend time with the grandchildren by the grandparents.
If you need help with this type of case in Fairfax, Prince William (Manassas), Fauquier (Warrenton), Loudoun (Leesburg), Caroline, Stafford, Spotsylvania (Fredericksburg), Chesterfield, Henrico, Arlington, Richmond, Alexandria, call our law firm immediately for help and speak to a lawyer about your options. In Maryland, if you need help with this type of an issue in Montgomery County, Rockville, Bethesda, Howard County, Ellicot City or Frederick, do not hesitate to call us for a consultation.
If you wish to consult an SRIS Law Group, P.C. attorney, call us at 855-696-3348.