How Grandparents Get Visitation Rights to See Their Grandchildren in Ohio

grandparents visitation rights in OhioGrandparents must file with the court (usually the domestic relations division of the Court of Common Pleas) to get grandparents visitation rights.  In three instances, grandparents legal rights are statutorily protected in Ohio:

1) When married parents terminate their marriage or separate.

2) When a parent of the child is deceased.

3) When a child is born to an unmarried woman.

(See Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3109.051, 3109.11 and 3109.12.)

When married parents separate, terminate or annul their marriage, or when there is a child support proceeding, a court can grant reasonable grandparents visitation rights to the grandparents in the proceeding and establish the times for visits.  Such visitation is principally granted when contact is limited.  Grandparents rights only exist at the discretion of the court and can be revoked at any time.

Grandparents can visit their grandchildren only during court-approved visitation.  The motion for visitation rights may be filed while a proceeding is pending or after a decree or final order is issued.  Before grandparents visitation rights are granted,the court will determine whether the grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the child and will consider several factors to determine if the visitation is in the best interest of the child.

When the parent of a child dies, a parent of the deceased parent can file a complaint for grandparents visitation rights in the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the child resides.  If the child’s mother was unmarried when the child was born, the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the child resides may grant grandparents visitation rights to the maternal grandparents.  The court may grant visitation rights to the paternal grandparents if the father’s acknowledgement of parentage is final or if he is found to be the child’s father in a parentage action.

Grandparents may also file a complaint for companionship in juvenile court when the grandchild is illegitimate or the parent of the child is deceased and the grandparent is having difficulty visiting the child.

Grandparents seeking visitation rights should be prepared for the kind of testimony they will need to provide in court.  There may be questions about their physical or emotional health or the physical or emotional well-being of the grandchild.  The availability of the grandparents and the age of the grandchild may also be subjects of discussion and the parents or grandchildren themselves may be asked to testify.

A grandparent is vested with the right to seek judicial enforcement of a visitation order.  If a parent interferes with grandparents visitation rights, the court can hold the parent in contempt.

It is also possible to apply to the court for “companionship rights”—one does not have to be a relative of the child.  In Ohio, the person applying for such rights must be “related to the child by consanguinity (blood) or affinity.”   A motion must be filed with the court and the court must determine the latter person has an interest in the welfare of the child and that the visitation is in the best interests of the child.

There are many complex issues that can develop in seeking grandparents visitation rights.  You will likely need the assistance of a lawyer for grandparents rights to help you be certain there is someone representing your interests.

Slater & Zurz LLP has attorneys who are very familiar with grandparents rights in Ohio and will do everything possible to make sure you are able to visit your grandchild or grandchildren despite the direction their parents’ lives have taken.  Call our law firm at 1-888-760-8958 or send us a message from our website at dissolutionanddivorce.com. 

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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