What Factors Go Into Awarding Grandparent Visitation Rights

Veteran Fairfax And Arlington Family Law Attorney On Grandparent Visitation Rights

There is an unwritten preference by the courts to leave requests for visitation by non-parental parties to the sole discretion of the parents—including requests from grandparents. But under "§ 20-124.2(B)" of the Virginia Code, The court "may upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the best interest of the child would be served thereby award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest." However, Virginia case law requires the court to give a natural parent preference over a non-parent in custody cases unless the parents meet one of several criteria that permits the Court to avoid giving custody to a non-parent. As a family law attorney serving clients in Fairfax and Arlington, I've successfully used statutes and case law to enable grandparents to gain custody of their grandchildren and to see their grandchildren—sometimes even over the wishes of the mother or father or both.

Seeking Grandparent Rights in the Fairfax Family Courts

Naturally, the easiest way to secure visitation is via the approval of one or both parents. It is not uncommon, however, for parents of minor children to withhold visitation from a grandparent as leverage or retaliation. Because the Virginia Code references giving due regard to the primacy of the parent-child relationship, there must be a compelling reason for the court to with hold the children from a grandparent. In determining custody and visitation the child in relation to petitions by grandparents, the court must consider the following factors:

  • The age of the child
  • The grandparent's past relationship with the child
  • The ways in which the grandparents have contributed and will continue to contribute to the child's emotional and physical wellbeing
  • How much of the child's time has been spent with the grandparent
  • Whether or not the grandparent has a history of abuse
  • If either parent has unduly inhibited the child's relationship with the grandparent
  • Anything else that might help the court determine whether the grandparent is a "person of legitimate interest."

Family Law and Divorce Lawyer of Northern VA

Regardless of whether you are a grandparent who is trying to get the Fairfax County court to allow you to reconnect with your beloved grandchild, or a parent who believes that contact between your child and his or her grandparent is a bad idea, family law attorney Claudia Zucker can represent you. To schedule an appointment with one of the Arlington-Fairfax area's premier family law attorneys, call (703) 596-1005.

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