New Law For Grandparents Rights: What The New Laws Mean For You

new law for grandparents' rights

Every jurisdiction is bound by certain laws that people need to abide by. You have heard about various laws. But have you heard about the new law for grandparents’ rights?

Well, we will get to that right away.

The relationship of a grandchild to a grandparent is, by definition, a special one that provides benefits for each generation. However, grandparents may not have the time or access to see their grandchildren as often as they would like.

In most disputes related to the custody and visitation of the child, it is between the parents, and quite often the grandparents become involved in heavy child-rearing responsibilities.

This resource is for state law and reports on grandparents’ rights and decisions made by courts for various factors.

What Is A Grandparent’s Right?

grandparents rightsWhen parents have parental rights, they usually accord the law that the parents continue being part of their children’s lives actively; most importantly, this includes custodial care.

Parents should be allowed to legally have custody of their kids or at least allow them to visit their parents regularly, except in cases when parents are abusive, neglectful, or other serious issue.

Grandparent rights, on the other hand, are different. Grandparents don’t always have a legal right to see their grandchildren. Grandparents seeking visitation or even custody of a grandchild from a court was an exceedingly rare event, with rules and regulations different from state to state.

When Can Grandparents Ask For Permission To Visit?

In some circumstances, grandparents may ask the court for the award of visitation rights. This means that the court forces the parent(s) to let the grandparents have time with the grandkids on a normal schedule.

The grandparents can, therefore, petition for visitation rights in such cases. State laws vary as to what specific situations may allow this to occur, but most states allow grandparents to ask for visitation rights when the following circumstances arise:

  • If the parents are separated or divorced
  • If one or both parents passed away
  • If a petition for divorce has been filed
  • If the child is no longer in the custody of his/her parents
  • If a child is born out of wedlock

Many states prohibit grandparents from asking for visitation when the child lives with an intact family. In other words, if the child is living with both parents, the grandparents will not have a right to sue for visitation.

Any rights the grandparents may have can easily be trumped by the parental rights of the parents, who decide that the grandparents have no right to see the children.

When Can Grandparents Ask For Custody?

Some grandparents may go to the extent of acquiring the right to visit their grandkids. They may actually get the right and, in fact, take up custody of the grandchild.

In short, after the death of the parent, the person assumes the right and responsibility of bringing up the said child and making decisions for the said child.

Grandparents can ask for the custody only if:

  • The parent(s) are physically or mentally unfit
  • The parent(s) have expired or passed away
  • The parent(s) agree to the proposal that the grandparents should take custody

The court will consider what is in the best interests of the child when making a custody decision. If in any case the children are not taken care of by the parents and the parents had not appointed any guardian, then they prefer the children not go into foster care. This could be grandparents or other relatives, such as aunts or uncles.

Enforcing New Law For Grandparents Rights

A few states have even allowed grandparents to become involved in a custody case either on the side of one of the parents or even to bring their own court action for visitation rights.

Bear in mind, however, that this is not usually possible in case the parents are living in an intact relationship and have chosen not to allow the grandparents to view the grandkids.

The parents must be unfit, separated, divorced, or have lost custody for the grandparents to get either visitation or custody granted through court intervention.

This often means showing the court a meaningful and close relationship with the children, and thus, grandparents usually need to prove that it is in the best interest of the child to further develop the connection.

Grandparents may provide to the court evidence in various forms relevant for enforcement purposes. Some of the information that they might present to the court, falling in that category, is described further on:

  • They have lived with the child without the parents and been the primary caregiver for the child for a period of time.
  • They talked to the child often and grew closer over time.
  • Children would want to visit the grandparents (in case of visitation rights) or would want to live with the grandparents (in a custody case).
  • In a custody case, the parents cannot take care of the child or make sure their home is safe and stable.

This normally demands substantial proof to prove the strong links with the grandchildren and/or that the children’s parents are unwelcoming or unable to take care of them, in the event one wishes to ask the court to grant the grandparents’ rights.

The United States Supreme Court has given its imprimatur to this position in holding the rights of biological parents to be fundamental.

But in Troxel v. Granville (2000), it did hold that a court can order grandparents’ visitation or custody in some cases. And often, the state laws are much wider.

Third-party visitation rights may even be extended to siblings and other relatives. These are usually referred to as “third-party” or “nonparent” visitation rights.

Some states are more restrictive. They would have to require that both parents be deceased before allowing custodial parentage or “conservatorship” with the grandparents.

Otherwise, the grandparents must prove to the court that it would be in the best interest of the child to inculcate custody because there is a judicial presumption against parental custody.

A very close bond between the child and grandparent is usually not enough to prove this presumption.

The court looks at issues of residence and contact with the child; ultimately, the court will decide what the custody arrangement and parenting time will be.

The court will make use of the state law factors.

During the 2022 legislative session in Florida, a bill was filed—one that would expand rights to grandparents. In other words, should this bill become law, it would give grandparents expanded rights but only under these tragic circumstances.

New Law For Grandparents’ Rights in Florida & South Carolina

new law for grandparents' rights florida

In June of 2022, the governor signed into law a bill that essentially expanded the grandparent’s right to claim custody and/or visitation with their grandchild.

The new law shall establish a rebuttable presumption when the grandparent seeking the rights to the grandchild(ren)’s custody is claiming against a parent who has been found criminally liable for causing the death of the other parent.

The bill (The Merkle Act) that was passed in June 2022 was named after Dan Markle, a law professor at Florida State University.

As per the new law for grandparents’ rights near South Carolina, in any manner, the rights of the grandparents to the grandchildren follow from the rights of their child; that is to say, under normal circumstances, a grandparent can only have a visit with a grandchild during those periods when the child of this grandparent can have a visit.

Final Note

This new act for the rights of grandparents or New Law For Grandparents Rights is a breakthrough in the preservation of family bonds, as it gives them the right to hold important relations with their grandchild in the same ways, even if circumstances are hostile.

The procedure throughout the legal way can be tricky, but professional help always stands to assist at the present time in the protection of the right. Remember the well-being of the children.

By teaching the families the fine print of the new law on grandparents’ rights, the families will take comfort that the strings will be saved for their protection.

It is a kind of welcoming of a new experience to spend as much quality time with your grandchildren as possible.

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Jason Jones

Jason Jones is an experienced editor with a passion for the law. With a 10-year background in legal editing, He has honed his skills in ensuring accuracy and clarity in legal writing. He is dedicated to delivering high-quality content that educates and informs readers on various legal topics.

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