Ohio law expressly allows for grandparent visitation. Ideally, the child’s parents will agree to let you visit. However, if the child’s parents are opposed to continuing contact between you and your grandchildren, you can seek a court order granting you the right.
The Ohio Law
Under Ohio Revised statute 3109.051, grandparents can file a motion with the court to seek visitation. If the court decides that the grandparent has an interest in the child’s welfare, and if visitation is in the child’s best interest, then the court can grant the motion.
Grandparents in Ohio can seek visitation in only three situations:
- The child’s parents are not married
- The child’s parents file for divorce or legal separation
- One of the child’s parents has died
This means you cannot seek grandparent visitation if your child lives in an intact family with two parents.
As part of its analysis, the court will consider the parent’s wishes. However, courts do not have to give the parents’ wishes dispositive weight, so a parent cannot unilaterally keep you from your grandchildren. Instead a court will analyze multiple factors to determine what is in your grandchild’s best interest, including:
- Your grandchild’s safety and health
- Your grandchild’s age
- Your interactions with your grandchild
- How far you live from your grandchild
- How well adjusted your child is to school, family, and their community
- Your grandchild’s wishes
- Your physical and mental health
- Your willingness to reschedule missed visitation
This “best interests” analysis is complex, and an attorney can help you understand how a typical judge will review your request.
Building a Case for Visitation
Concerned grandparents who expect a parent to fight visitation must carefully build their case. Meeting with an experienced family law attorney in Columbus is the first step. Your attorney can help you gather evidence that shows a real and meaningful bond between you and your grandchild. Grandparents who come out of the blue without documented ties to the child do not generally receive visitation.
Grandparents might also need to testify about sensitive and embarrassing information. For example, by seeking visitation, you are putting your physical and mental health up for discussion. You also might need to raise embarrassing information about the child’s parent, which could potentially lock you into a negative relationship forever. Grandparents must carefully weigh whether pursuing visitation is worth the potential downsides.
Additionally, you need to come up with a grandparent visitation schedule that is realistic and that you can stick with. Depending on your age and where you live, this could be a challenge, so meet with a grandparent visitation lawyer in Columbus as soon as possible.
Grandparent Visitation can be Terminated
Having fought to obtain visitation rights, grandparents should do everything possible to maintain them. The sad truth is that a court can terminate your visitation if there has been a change of circumstances that makes visitation no longer in your grandchild’s best interest.
Some changes are outside your control. For example, the child’s parent might remarry, in which case your visitation could be terminated. However, other reasons to terminate are in your control. If you regularly miss visitation, you are inviting the parent to ask the court to modify the visitation order to terminate it altogether.
Obtaining Visitation after the State Takes Custody
In the event the state removes your children from their home, you might be able to establish visitation with your grandchildren. You should contact the agency that has your children. Currently, no law provides for grandparent visitation in this situation, but the state agency has a rule in place that authorizes it in certain situations.
Of course, if the state has removed your grandchild from the home, you might seek legal custody or start the process for becoming the foster parent. You should discuss this process with a family law attorney, who can advise you about whether this is a good option.
Are You Seeking a Grandparent Visitation Schedule? Speak with a Columbus Family Law Attorney
Battles over grandparent visitation can be some of the most emotional that family law attorneys deal with. Often, these disputes erupt after years of strained relations with the parents. You need caring, steady legal guidance to help you understand your options and your chances of success.
At the Lawrence Law Office, our family law attorneys understand the state’s complicated grandparent visitation statutes inside and out. We have helped many grandparents vindicate their rights in court, and we are prepared to do everything we can to help you as well. To schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 614-363-0752 or submit an online message.