Most parents, grandparents and child development experts alike would agree that living in a multigenerational family benefits children in many different ways. Grandparents often offer a level of support and connection that is unique from that given by parents to their kids, and many children thrive from having daily contact with other members of their family. It is for that reason that divorce and other family law disputes are known to raise serious concerns when it comes to grandparents’ visitation rights.
LegalZoom discusses some of the legal factors that are taken into consideration when granting grandparent visitation rights in the state of Virginia. Grandparents are generally recognized as having the same legitimate interest as other qualifying individuals in custody and visitation disputes, and Virginia family law courts have the authority to grant grandparents visitation rights in many cases. However, several legal factors and considerations can come into play in such disputes.
As is the case with any child custody and visitation dispute, the court first and foremost considers the best interests of the child or children in the case. Therefore, some of the factors that may be weighed by the court when considering whether or not a grandparent should have visitation rights can include but are not limited to:
- The ability of the grandparent to care for the child
- Any history of abuse by the grandparent
- The current relationship between the grandparent and child
It is important to note that while the court does have the authority to institute grandparent visitation rights in many instances, Virginia state laws still prioritize the wishes of parents in most cases. Therefore, the court may not override the preferences of the parents involved unless or until there is convincing evidence that awarding third-party visitation rights in the best interests of the child. Given that these types of family law judgments are generally issues on a case-by-case basis, it is also important to keep in mind that general guidelines do not apply in every dispute.