This is the first post in a new series I am beginning that will focus on the rights of grandparents in relation to family law and child custody. The topic of grandparents’ rights is often a murky one; in the majority of cases the truth is that grandparents do not often have legal rights to grandchildren. In the eyes of the law a parent is free to choose whether or not their child has a relationship with another adult. This includes family members; having a blood relation to a child does not entitle a grandparent to Court Ordered visitation in Nevada.
There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Under certain circumstances the Clark County Family Court will consider ordering visitation with a grandchild even if it is against the custodial parent’s wishes. Specific scenarios I will be discussing during this series include:
- Grandparent rights when an adult child dies, leaving behind a grandchild
- Grandparent rights when an adult child is incarcerated, and a grandchild remains in the custody of the other parent
- Grandparent rights when an adult child chooses not to be involved in the life of their grandchild, but the grandparents wish to have a relationship
- Grandparent rights when a child lives with the adult parent, and the grandparent’s relationship with the adult child has become estranged
When a grandparent goes to Court seeking visitation with a grandchild, it is because the custodial parent or guardian has refused or restricted the grandparent’s access to the child. In these cases, Nevada law begins with a presumption that the child in question’s custodial parent or guardian has a legitimate reason for not allowing the visitation. It is up to the grandparent filing the petition to prove that they have a meaningful relationship with the child, and that the child will be harmed if this relationship is discontinued. Proving a meaningful relationship can be difficult; factors the Court will consider are periods of time the child has resided with the grandparent, family holidays the child has spent with the grandparent, medical care, clothing or food the grandparent has provided the child, and evidence of affection and a loving relationship that exists between the grandparent and child. In most cases, it is necessary for the child to have resided with the grandparent for some period of time.
As a general rule, Court’s respect the wishes of a custodial parent, and do not often force a child to have a relationship with a third party that the parent does not approve of. However, if the evidence is presented in a careful manner, visitation rights can be won by well-meaning and loving grandparents. If you are a Las Vegas area grandparent and are being kept from seeing your grandchild, contact my office today for an initial consultation.