In both Ohio and Kentucky, grandparents may seek to be granted reasonable companionship and visitation rights with minor children, under certain circumstances.
Overview Of Grandparents’ Visitation Rights In Ohio
In Ohio, grandparents of a minor child may file a motion in the domestic relations court for visitation rights if there is a divorce, the dissolution of a marriage, a legal separation, an annulment or a pending child support proceeding, or at any time after a decree or final order is issued in the case. In order to grant reasonable visitation or companionship rights, the court must determine that the grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the child and that the granting of companionship or visitation rights is in the best interest of the child.
The court is required to consider 16 factors set forth in O.R.C. § 3109.051 in determining what is in the best interest of the child, some of which include, but are not limited to:
- The prior interaction of the child with the grandparent
- The geographical location of the grandparent’s residence and the distance from the child’s residence
- The child’s and parents’ available time
- The age of the child
- The health and safety of the child
- The mental and physical health of all parties. The court is also obligated to afford some special weight to the wishes of the child’s parents
Additionally, in Ohio, the grandparents of a child born to an unmarried woman may seek visitation rights with the child in the juvenile court; however, paternity will first have to be established before the parents of the father can seek visitation rights. The juvenile court may grant visitation or companionship rights to the grandparent if it determines that doing so is in the best interest of the child after considering all of the factors set forth in O.R.C. § 3109.051.
The marriage or remarriage of the parent of a child born to unmarried parents does not affect the authority of the juvenile court to grant a grandparent visitation rights. The adoption of the child by a stepparent likely does affect the authority of the court to award reasonable grandparent visitation rights to the grandparents whose child lost parental rights.
Furthermore, grandparents may seek visitation rights with a minor grandchild in the event that a parent dies. Specifically, the parents of the deceased parent can file a complaint requesting reasonable visitation rights with their grandchild. The court may grant visitation or companionship rights to the grandparent if it determines that doing so is in the best interest of the child after considering all of the factors set forth in O.R.C. § 3109.051.
Importantly, neither the remarriage of the surviving parent of the child nor the adoption of the child by a stepparent affects the authority of the court to grant reasonable visitation or companionship rights to the parent of the child’s deceased father or mother.
In Ohio, grandparents generally have no statutory right to seek visitation or companionship rights absent one of the above described precipitating events such as when the parents are married and the family remains intact.
Kentucky’s Grandparent Visitation Rules Are Somewhat Less Complex
Kentucky’s grandparent visitation statute is far less limiting than those in Ohio. In Kentucky, the circuit courts have jurisdiction to grant reasonable visitation rights to either the maternal or paternal grandparents, regardless of the marital status of the parents, so long as such visitation is determined to be in the best interests of the child. Once visitation rights have been granted, the grandparent’s rights will not be adversely affected by a subsequent termination of the parental rights of the grandparents’ son or daughter (ostensibly the parent of the child).
Litigation concerning grandparent visitation and companionship rights can be complicated and complex, and requires a skilled and experienced trial lawyer. The attorneys of Phyllis G. Bossin Co., L.P.A., bring a substantial level of skill and competence to grandparent visitation rights and related proceedings.