Madilyn Keating Ellsworth’s Answer
Under certain limited circumstances, grandparents may bring a petition for visitation or electronic communication with their grandchild. To obtain grandparent visitation, the party seeking visitation must show that one of the parents is unreasonably denying visitation by the grandparent and that the denial is causing undue mental, physical or emotional harm to the child. It can be very difficult for grandparents to meet this burden, as there is a rebuttable presumption that a fit parent’s decision to deny third-party visitation is not harmful to the child.
In making its decision, the court will also consider certain factors including: (1) the child’s wishes; (2) the parties’ motives; (3) the history of the child’s relationship with the grandparent seeking visitation; (4) the impact of visitation on the child; and (5) the level of contact and involvement by the grandparent seeking visitation with the child over the previous 6-12 months. Overall, the court’s determination will be based on the best interests of the child.