Grandparent’s rights in Virginia: Custody, visitation, and more

The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren is a special one. However, in situations involving divorce, illness or death, family strife, or estrangement, a grandparent may be unable to see their grandchild. Depending on the circumstances, grandparents in Virginia may have rights to custody and visitation. If you’re a grandparent in Virginia who needs help determining your rights regarding your grandchild, our Fairfax child custody lawyers at Select Law Partners PLLC can help you.

grandparents rights

Do grandparents have rights in Virginia?

According to Virginia law, any “person with a legitimate interest” in a child’s care can petition for custody, visitation, and parenting time. This includes grandparents and step-grandparents.

What does a “child’s best interests” mean?

Considering what’s best for a child when determining custody, visitation, and parenting time is extremely important. In Virginia, there are several factors judges look at when weighing a child’s best interest. These factors include the following:

  • The age and mental condition of the child
  • The age, physical, and mental condition of the parents and parties
  • The relationship between the child and parents or parties
  • The needs of the child
  • The role the parents and parties play in the child’s life
  • Whether each parent supports the child’s relationship with the other
  • Whether the parents support the child having a relationship with their grandparents and extended family
  • The parent’s ability to co-parent
  • The child’s preference
  • Histories of family abuse or violence

Depending on the circumstances, it may be in a child’s best interest to have a relationship with their grandparents despite what one or both parents believe. If you’re a grandparent who’s being withheld from seeing your grandchild, you may have legal recourse. An experienced child custody attorney from Select Law Partners PLLC can review your grandparent rights and your options for visiting or raising your grandchild.

When may a grandparent be granted custody?

Granting custody to a grandparent is a significant action that requires clear and convincing evidence that doing so is in the child’s best interest. You will need to prove certain factors to a judge to obtain grandparents’ custody rights. These factors include the following:

  • The child’s parents are unfit to raise their children.
  • The child’s parents voluntarily surrendered their parental rights.
  • The child’s parents abandoned them.
  • Other extenuating circumstances may warrant a grandparent obtaining custody of their grandchild.

Under Virginia law, parents have the fundamental right to raise their children and make decisions regarding their upbringing and education. As such, granting custody to a grandparent is considered an extreme measure and will require clear justification. A Fairfax child custody attorney can help determine what evidence is needed to prove why it’s in the child’s best interest to grant a grandparent custody of their grandchild.

Grandparent’s visitation rights in Virginia

When determining whether a grandparent should be granted visitation rights with their grandchild, a judge will primarily look at what’s in the child’s best interest. Additionally, they will consider the parents’ involvement in the child’s life. What you need to demonstrate to a judge differs depending on how the parents feel about you having a relationship with your grandchild.

If both parents agree that the child shouldn’t have a relationship with their grandparents, it must be proven that the child will suffer actual harm if they don’t see their grandparents. However, if only one parent objects to visitation with your grandchild, you only need to prove that visitation is in the child’s best interest to be granted visitation. If a parent is deceased, the grandparent must demonstrate evidence showing that the deceased parent consented to their visitation with the child.

How adoption affects grandparents’ rights in Virginia

When parents’ rights are terminated through voluntary or involuntary adoption, the grandparents’ rights are also terminated. There may be exceptions to this rule if a stepparent or other close relative adopts the child. A family law attorney at Select Law Partners PLLC can review how your rights as a grandparent may be affected by the adoption of your grandchild.

Getting help obtaining grandparents’ rights in VA

Battling over custody of a child in Virginia is difficult in any situation. It’s especially difficult for grandparents because their rights are sometimes unclear. If you’re a grandparent who wants custody of, or visitation with, your grandchild because it’s in the child’s best interest, you need the help of an experienced child custody lawyer in Fairfax, VA.

Our team is familiar with Virginia’s laws regarding child custody and visitation. Call us at (855) 541-4867 for a consultation to discuss your rights as grandparents in Virginia. We know how special your relationship is with your grandchild and will help you fight for your rights about your time with them.

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Matt Kurylo

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