Grandparents' Rights Law in Worthington, OH
Also serving the Columbus, OH area
The term “grandparent’s rights” is actually not correct. Grandparents do not have any specific right to visitation with their grandchildren. There are, however, several provisions in the Ohio Revised Code which will allow Courts to provide for visitation with grandparents, relatives or any other person who has been a significant part of the child’s life (i.e., a stepparent) if such visitation is in the best interest of the minor children.
For example, Ohio Revised Code 3109.051(B) provides that in a divorce action a court may, upon the motion of a grandparent, relative or other person, grant such visitation rights as are in the best interest of the child. The key to this provision is that the proposed visitation must be in the best interest of the child and it must be understood that this provision does not grant any person a “right” to visitation. In most cases, the Court will not entertain such motions if the is ample opportunity for contact through visitation with the divorcing parents. For example, if the husband will have significant visitation with the children, then the Courts will expect that the husband will use that time to allow contact with his relatives. The section is primarily used where, for one reason or another, the opportunity for contact through the parent is limited. For example, a court may strictly limit visitation with a parent who is mentally ill or guilty of sexual abuse of a minor. Under such circumstances it may be appropriate to entertain visitation with the grandparents since they cannot see their grandchildren through their child. Note that this section applies to pending divorce actions and in cases where a divorce has been finalized. For example, the original divorce may not have contemplated grandparents’ visitation because both parents had ample time with the child. If there is a subsequent change of circumstances that limit the ability to visit through the parent (i.e. death of parent, parent moving out of state or limitations on visitations due to misconduct) then the grandparents or other relatives may seek time with the child.
Please note that this statute does not apply to a situation where the parents are still married. Accordingly, a Court will generally not grant visitation under this provision to a grandparent seeking visitation with grandchildren where both parents, still married, are refusing visitation.
In cases where a child is born out of wedlock, Ohio Revised Code 3109.12 provides that the parents or other relatives of the mother may request visitation. The statute provides the same alternative for parents and relatives of the father if paternity has been acknowledged in accordance with Ohio law. Once again, this statute does not confer a “right” of visitation and visitation will only be granted if it is in the best interest of the child. Ohio Revised Code provides that if either the father or mother of an unmarried woman is deceased, then the Court may grant the parents and other relatives of the deceased party reasonable visitation. Once again, this visitation will be granted only if it is in the best interest of the children.
Notably, grandparents and other relatives may be able to seek visitation with a child even when there has been an adoption of the child terminating the parental rights of the parent through whom they are connected to the child.Grandparents should also be aware of provision in the Ohio Revised Code which allows a temporary transfer of custody of the children to the grandparents. This is Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.52. The grandparent is given a limited power of attorney which allows them to have physical custody of the child, enroll the child in school where they live and to consent to medical treatment of the child. Note that this power of attorney automatically lapses after one year and may be revoked at any time by the parent and is void if the child ceases living with the grandparent. The purpose of these provisions is to allow a parent, for whatever reasons, to give authority to the grandparents to have physical custody of the child, enroll them in school where they live and to have authority to consent to medical treatment. The power of attorney can only be granted under certain circumstances, generally involving situations where the parent is temporarily incapable of caring for the child. If both parents do not consent, then there are requirements that the other parent be notified unless there is an exception to the notification requirements.