In many families, grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. When the parents of the grandchildren divorce, the rights of grandparents playing a role in their grandchildren’s lives can change. While ideally the parents would work out visitation rights cooperatively, in some cases this does not happen. The negative feelings and anger the parents feel against each other can lead to custody disputes and denying grandparents the right to visit their grandchildren.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Virginia?
Grandparents do potentially have the right to visitation time with their grandchildren. While there is no statute that grants visitation rights specifically to grandparents, Virginia law allows the court to grant visitation to parents and “persons of legitimate interest.” Parties who fall into this category include:
- Former stepparents
- Blood relatives
- Family members
In deciding a request for visitation, the judge will examine the child’s emotional and physical needs and the best interests of the child. The judge will also consider how the visitation will affect the parents’ relationship with their child. If both parents object to the visitation, the grandparents may need to prove actual harm to their grandchildren if no visitation is granted—which can be difficult to show. If only one parent is objecting to the visitation, the grandparents will only need to meet the best interests of the child standard, which can often lead to court-ordered visitation.
There are two situations where a grandparent will lose the right to visitation. If parental rights are terminated, the grandparents may also lose their visitation rights. Similarly, the grandparents will not continue to have rights if the grandchild is legally adopted.
If you are a grandparent and need to obtain visitation with your grandchildren, an experienced family law attorney can help you with your request to see your grandchildren. To learn about your legal options and how we can help, fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.