Grandparents are a significant and special part of their grandchildren’s lives, providing love, support, and sometimes fulfilling parental needs and duties. When divorce occurs, many grandparents worry that their ability to see their grandchildren will be compromised. Mississippi courts recognize the importance of the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren, and have laws in place to preserve those visitation rights if upholding and continuing that relationship is in the children’s best interest.
There are multiple scenarios in Mississippi in which grandparents can seek visitation rights:
- If your child was not awarded custody of her or his children, or their parental rights were terminated, you can petition for grandchild visitation rights in the court that issued the custody or divorce decree.
- If your child died, and the surviving parent or a relative now has custody of your grandchildren, you can petition for visitation in the county in which your grandchild resides.
- In cases where neither of the above scenarios applies, there is still a possibility for you to obtain grandparent visitation rights. In this case, you need to demonstrate that:
- You have a viable relationship with your grandchild, and
- You are unreasonably being denied visitation with your grandchild.
To prove a viable relationship, you must prove 1) that you have financially supported your grandchild in part or in whole for a minimum of six months preceding your petition for visitation rights, and 2) you have had frequent visits (including some overnight visits) with your grandchildren for at least one year before requesting visitation. Viable relationships can also be proved if the grandparents cared for the minor child(ren) for a significant period when the parent was absent from the home for various reasons, including military duty or incarceration.
In addition to these requirements, you must also show the courts that grandparent visitation rights will be in the best interest of the grandchild. The goal of the court is to provide an opportunity to maintain the grandparent-grandchild relationship if this relationship will not cause undue conflict among family members and will benefit the child.
Although a viable relationship between grandchildren and grandparents can be difficult to prove in a court of law, our experienced attorneys have extensive experience and knowledge that the wording of the statute is such that we can take multiple approaches to prove the viable relationship. For example, if you lived next door to your grandchild and saw them frequently but didn’t do overnights, an effective attorney’s argument of the legislature’s intent behind this phrasing can sometimes broaden the court’s interpretation and affect the ruling.
The team at Amanda Daniels has the knowledge and experience to evaluate your case, offer suggestions and legal strategies, and maximize your chance of a favorable outcome when you file for visitation rights. If you would like to discuss or file for grandparent visitation rights, call our office at (662) 678-8009 to schedule your free consultation.