Located and practicing in Martinsburg and throughout Eastern West Virginia
Located and practicing in Martinsburg and throughout Eastern West Virginia

Answers to questions about grandparents’ visitation

On Behalf of | May 6, 2020 | Firm News

If you are a grandparent, do you have the right to petition the court for visitation with your grandchild? Yes, but only under particular circumstances as established by West Virginia law.

The interest of the child is the guiding principle behind all family law decisions involving minors. For the court to issue an order granting you visitation rights, you must demonstrate how spending time with you is in the child’s interest. However, the visitation also must not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Does the court consider you a grandparent?

This may seem like a basic question, but it is an important one because it affects your eligibility for visitation. A biological relationship with the child or a current or previous marital relationship with one of the child’s biological grandparents makes you a grandparent in the eyes of the law. The law also considers you a grandparent if you once had custody of one of the child’s parents.

When can you petition the court for visitation?

You can file a petition for visitation while legal action involving your grandchild’s parents is pending for divorce, annulment, legal separation, establishment of paternity or custody. However, this is not a requirement, and you can also file when no such proceedings are in progress.

What factors does the court consider?

The considerations are different depending on whether you file during legal proceedings involving the parents of your grandchild. The court considers any custody or visitation arrangements involving the child and his or her parents, as well as what effect your visitation will have on the parent-child relationship.

Additionally, the court considers your relationship with your grandchild and with his or her parents. It also takes the parents’ preferences, the age of the child and the relationship between you and the child into consideration.

How do you petition for visitation?

If there is a question of neglect or abuse regarding the child, you must file your petition in circuit court, which will hear the case. Otherwise, you can file your petition in the family court.