​Grandparent Rights in Ohio, know your rights

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Grandparents rights have been under debate for decades. Parents have a fundamental right from the constitution to choose who will and will not be involved in a child’s life. In some states, grandparents have a right to have a relationship with their grandchild. The term grandparent’s rights refers to the legal concept that courts can order parents to allow grandparents to spend time with their grandchild. Ohio grandparents have a right to have a relationship with their grandchildren, but the facts of your circumstances must show that the visitation with the grandparents is in the child’s best interest. The statutes that govern these rights in Ohio are com

When does Ohio order Grandparents rights for visitation?

Ohio grandparents rights of visitation are allowed by statute in limited circumstances.

  • When the parents of the child are married and decide to end the marriage or the parents decide to separate
  • When one of the parents of the child is deceased
  • When the child is born to an unmarried woman

However, the court must still find that the visitation with the grandparents is in the best interests of the child. The “best interest of the child” standard is the basis for all custody and visitation cases in Ohio.

The best interest of the child is determined by the judge based on the following factors:

  • The concerns and/or wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s prior interactions and interrelationships with the parents, grandparents, and other relatives;
  • The location of the grandparent’s residence and the distance between it and the child’s residence;
  • The time which the child and parents have available taking into consideration schedules for employment, school, holidays, and vacations;
  • The child’s age;
  • The child’s adjustment at home, school, and in the community;
  • The child’s wishes as expressed to the court if the court interviews the child;
  • The child’s health and safety;
  • The availability of time for the child to be with his or her siblings;
  • The mental and physical health of all parties concerned;
  • The willingness of the grandparent to reschedule missed visitation;
  • Any conviction of the grandparent or guilty plea by the grandparent involving a crime of child abuse or child neglect; and,
  • Any other factor that the court may consider to determine the best interest of the child.

If the court denies the motion for visitation, the grandparent has the right to appeal this decision.

Ohio Grandparent rights for custody

In addition to allowing grandparent rights for visitation in Ohio, Ohio law also permits grandparents to sue for custody of their grandchildren. Again, specific circumstances must arise for this kind of lawsuit to be made.

To win custody of their grandchildren, a grandparent must prove that both parents are unfit and that it is in the best interest of the child that the grandparents be given custody of the child.

If a grandparent believes that a child is in danger or the parents are unfit, they need to contact and attorney as soon as possible to file a motion with the court.

What should you do if the parents refuse to allow court ordered custody?

If the court grants visitation under Ohio grandparent rights statutes, the parents must obey the order. When parents do not follow a court order, they are in contempt of court. The grandparent can file a  motion for contempt seeking the parents to comply with the order.

Parents that are found guilty of contempt can be ordered to pay fines, be sentenced to jail time, or possibly ordered to pay court fees and attorney’s fees accrued in regard to the contempt action.

What should you consider before filing the motion for grandparent’s rights?

Before grandparents decide to file a motion with the court for custody or visitation, consider long term consequences of involving the court. This could damage your relationship with the parents of the grandchild, and if you do win custody, you should be prepared to physically, emotionally, and financially care for your grandchildren.

If you decide to go forward with a motion for custody or visitation, be prepared to discuss specific details regarding:

  • Concerns regarding the children’s safety
  • The role you have played in caring for your grandchildren
  • Your relationship with your grandchildren versus the relationship of the parents with their children
  • The parent’s weaknesses and strengths versus your weaknesses and strengths
  • The extent you have assumed parenting functions for your grandchildren​

The first step you should take is to contact an Ohio family law attorney to discuss your options that would be best suited to achieve your goals. In Ohio, grandparent’s rights are a complicated issue and having representation can give you an edge.

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