Grandparents Rights in Ohio When a Step-Parent Adopts

Grandparents Rights in Ohio when Step Parent AdoptsThe marriage or remarriage of a child’s parent does not affect a court’s authority to grant or modify grandparent visitation rights.

But when a parent divorces and remarries and the step-parent adopts the grandchild or grandchildren, the grandparents visitation rights become voluntary in Ohio.  If the step-parent agrees to the grandparents post-adoption visitation, only then can the grandparents rights to see grandchildren continue.  There are a few exceptions, however.

Although strong in grandparents rights in other areas of the law, Ohio courts do not have the authority to grant post-adoption visitation except in the special circumstances just alluded to.  It does not matter that the grandparent had court-ordered grandparents visitation rights before the adoption took place.

When the step-parent adopts, the grandparent no longer has “standing” which is the right of a party to be heard by the court on a particular issue.  In many states, grandparents can visit as long as they can demonstrate their visits are in the best interests of the child, according to  The court will also consider the party’s history of behavior with the grandchild.

Ohio law requires that the step-parent be married to the biological parent for at least one year before pursuing step-parent adoption.  In addition, the child must have lived in the home with the parent and step-parent for at least six months.  If the natural parent does not consent to the adoption, it cannot occur unless the natural parent has no communication with the child and/or provides no financial support.

The statutory language regarding visitation after adoption does not apply in Ohio if the child of the grandparents (the mother or father of the grandchild) is deceased.  This is one of the exceptions.   The court has the authority to grant reasonable companionship or visitation with respect to the child whose mother or father is no longer living.   In this case, the state has a “compelling interest” to order grandparents visitation rights.  This is also true if the grandchild is illegitimate or a ward of the court.

If a parent retains parental rights after a step-parent adoption, the grandparents are also entitled to seek grandparents rights in Ohio and visitation with their grandchild.  However, in most cases where there is a divorce, or where the parents never married, and an adoption order terminates the parental rights of one of the parents, that adoption order also terminates the visitation rights of any relatives of the parent whose rights were ended, including grandparents.

If the mother remarries and mother’s new husband adopts the child, under most adoption orders, the father’s parental rights are terminated.

The “other” natural parent is not required to consent to the adoption if, as noted above, proof is provided to the court that he or she 1) has failed without justification to communicate with the child or 2) has failed to financially support the child for a period of one year before the adoption petition is filed.  Other exceptions to the requirement of parental consent for adoption are putative father status (one presumed to be the father of an illegitimate child) and parents whose parental rights have been terminated by the juvenile court.

If denied visitation, grandparents may file a written request with the court for findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The court must provide a written finding explaining why the grandparents were denied grandparents visitation rights.

Get the help of professionals

As one can see, the law surrounding Ohio grandparents rights and grandparents visitation rights and laws involving step-parents in adoption and divorce situations can get quite complicated.  The facts of each case are unique and wading through the maze of information and court proceedings is very difficult without the help of a lawyer for grandparents rights.

The experienced family law attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP are there to help you become familiar with what Ohio law is in these areas and what options you may have in a situation.  Call us at 1-888-760-8958 for a free consultation or visit our web page on divorce and family law-related issues at

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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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