If you are a grandparent who has been denied access to your own grandchildren, you have the right to fight for visitation. Be aware that the guiding principle of all family law court judges is what is in the children’s best interest, so be prepared to prove that fact. Divorce, separation, one parent’s death or other family changes can affect Grandparents relationship with their grandchildren. In Kentucky grandparents have a legal right to request visitation with their grandchildren if the family has experienced one of those life altering changes.
The grandparent will have the “burden of proof” which is the duty to provide sufficient evidence to show that visitation is in the child’s best interest. There were several Supreme Court of Ky cases and in the most recent one the decision was… A parent or a grandparent who is found to be acting out of “spite or vindictiveness” can be ruled against. The court found that the “clear and convincing evidence” standard was unnecessarily high. It recommended instead a “preponderance of evidence” standard. If your grandchild’s parents object to your grandparent visitation, you must overcome this assumption by showing that spending time with you serves the child’s bet interest.
State Of Kentucky List Of Factors That Define In The Child’s Best Interest
Kentucky’s list of factors was developed in conjunction with the case of Vibbert vs Vibbert. These factors are known as Vibbert factors, and they include…
- The nature and stability of the relationship between the child and the grandparent
- The amount of time spent together
- The potential detriments and benefits to the child from granting visitation
- The effect visitation would have on the child’s relationship with the parents
- The physical and emotional health of all the adults involved
- The stability of the child’s living and schooling arrangements
- The preferences of the child
- The motivation of the adults participating in the grandparent visitation proceedings
The last factor was added later, after a Kentucky court making use of the Vibbert factors considered the possibility that adults involved in visitation cases could be acting out of vindictiveness. If the grandparent can establish the parent’s objection is unfounded based on the above factors, the court may grant their request for scheduled visits.
Grandparent Custody Rights In The State Of Kentucky
If a grandparent wants to be involved in parenting decisions, only legal custody gives them the right for the child to live with them. In Kentucky, courts consider multiple factors to choose a custody arrangement that serves a child’s best interests.
How Courts Make Child Custody Decisions in Kentucky
Kentucky law directs the court to consider the following list of specific factors when deciding what is in the best interest of a child…
- the wishes of the child’s parents and any “de facto” custodian (to be a de facto custodian, the custodian must meet the legal standards described in KS 403.270(1))
- the wishes of the child, considering any influence a parent or de facto custodian may have over these wishes
- the child’s relationship with his or her parents, siblings, and anyone else who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
- the motivation of the adults participating in the custody proceeding
- the child’s adjustment and continuing proximity to home, school, and community
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- domestic violence by one of the parties against the child or another party
- the extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and supported by a de facto custodian
- the intent of the parent or parents in placing the child with a de facto custodian and the circumstances under which the child was placed or allowed to remain in the custody of a de facto custodian
- the likelihood a party will allow the child frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the other parent or de facto custodian, unless there is a finding of domestic violence that endangers the health or safety the child or another party
Judges presume that custody with a biological or legal parent is in a child’s best interest, unless the child has lived with a grandparent or any other defacto parent for at least six months for a child up to three years old and one year for a child over 3 years old.
Is There A Process A Grandparent Must Follow To File For Visitation
You must file a letter with the local district court in the county where your grandchild lives. If for some reason you have filed a form and have a visitation order and the child’s parent is preventing you from visitation ask the court to enforce the order. You must however write another petition.
We are committed to helping families resolve their differences and get back to their lives. We help Grandparents with their visitation rights. We offer the guidance and support that you will need when you are involved with the legal system.
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About Helmer Somers Law
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