In healthy families, grandparents play a pivotal role in their grandchildren’s upbringing. In some cases, grandparents love the grandchildren more than their own parents or are more fit to care for and look after the kids than their parents.
But in many cases, parents bar their own parents (and the children’s grandparents) from seeing the children. Is this practice even legal in Utah? What are your legal options if you are a grandparent who cannot see the grandchildren because your own child and/or his/her spouse restrict visits?
This is the question we asked our Salt Lake City family law attorney from the Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law. So what visitation rights do grandparents have in Utah?
When do you have a right to request more time with grandchildren?
Unfortunately, in most situations, there is very little you can do to see your grandchildren more often. Utah family law offers very limited visitation rights to grandparents. In fact, if you are allowed some visits, there are no legal options to request more time with your grandkids.
If you, on the other hand, are completely barred from visiting and seeing your grandchildren, you may be entitled to file for court-ordered visitation. But there is a huge but.
Our experienced family law attorney in Salt Lake City explains that you cannot request court-ordered visitation as long as the parents of your grandchild are alive, are parenting in their child’s best interests, and have not lost their custody rights over the children.
However, if your grandkid’s parents are missing or raise the child, not in the child’s best interests, you may have a right to see the child. But even then, you will have to establish that your right to visit the grandchildren is in the grandchildren’s best interests.
Is it in your grandchild’s best interests?
In Utah, family courts make all child custody-related decisions based on the best interests of the child, but what does it mean exactly? Judges in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah consider the following factors when determining what is best for the child:
- The child’s emotional, mental, and physical health;
- The child’s age;
- The grandparents’ physical and mental health;
- The child’s relationship with his/her own parents;
- The quality and length of the relationship between the grandparents and the child;
- Grandparents’ willingness or reluctance to establish a close bond between the grandchild and his/her parents;
- The child’s opinion and preference.
In a nutshell, you will not be able to request court-ordered visitation if the child is still in his/her parents’ custody. Also, you will have to prove that granting visitation to you will be in the child’s best interests. Furthermore, Utah law allows grandparents to seek visitation if the child’s parents have gone missing, died, are in a coma, or are otherwise unfit to care for the child due to their mental or physical health.
Grandparents’ visitation rights in Utah
Generally, Utah family law does permit grandparents to visit their grandchild but only as long as these visits are in the grandchild’s best interests. These visits can take place in the grandparents’ home or where the child currently lives. Under Utah law, grandparents are also responsible for the costs associated with transporting the child to their home for visitation.
Our Salt Lake City family law attorney also warns that grandparents’ visitation rights can be revoked in case any of the following takes place:
- The grandparents take the child out of the city or state without the parents’ consent;
- The grandparents commit lewd or lascivious acts, sexual battery or incest;
- The grandparent’s abuse or neglect the grandkid.
Also, cases, when Utah courts grant child custody rights to grandparents only, are not unheard of, though they are very rare. Do you want to see your grandchildren more often? Consult with our skilled lawyers at the Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law to find out how. Call at 801-804-5152 or complete this contact form for a legal consultation.