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Grandparent Rights - State-by-State Rulings
Since 2001, several states have ruled on the issue -- most against existing laws protecting visitation. California, Florida, Tennessee and New Jersey courts declared existing laws protecting grandparents rights unconstitutional. However, in 2007, New York ruled in favor of grandparents.
Ohio grandparents must prove they have an interest in the child's welfare. In Alabama, courts take into account the moral character of the parents and the age and sex of the children. Rhode Island evaluates the relationship the grandparent has with the child as does Wisconsin.
Parents rights play a role in some states, including California, where the court follows the parents' wishes if both parents refuse grandparents visitation. Oregon and South Carolina consider how grandparent visitation will affect the child-parent relationship.
Some states evaluate the length of time grandparents have spent with their grandchild to determine if visitation rights are in order. New Mexico allows grandparents to petition for visitation rights if the child is older than six and has lived with the grandparent for more than six months; if the child is younger than six, the requirement goes down to three months.
Grandparents can file for visitation in some states only after they have been denied visits for a certain period; in Missouri, it's 90 days. In Texas, parents must be proven incompetent or neglectful, among other criteria, in determining grandparent visitation. In cases where a child is born out of wedlock, certain states require paternity tests, including Nebraska and Illinois.
When a child is put up for adoption in California, Connecticut and New York, grandparents do not lose their rights to see the child. However, all rights are cut off in Alabama, Delaware, Idaho,Virginia, West Virginia, Utah, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Nebraska, Maryland and New Hampshire. The remaining states allow grandparents to pursue rights depending on the relationship of the adoptive parent to the grandparent.
For more on each state's laws regarding grandparents rights, contact the National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights.
To find out the Grandparents Rights in your state, click here.