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Do grandparents have visitation rights in Ohio?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Child Custody

Grandparents often have a lot of time, love and energy to offer their grandchildren – and they can be huge sources of familial support for their adult children as they navigate the trials of parenthood.

Unfortunately, grandparents sometimes find themselves cut out of their grandchildren’s lives due to complicated family dynamics. 

Can you force your adult child to let you see your grandchildren?

In Ohio, the law permits grandparents to seek a formal order for visitation with their grandchildren only in certain situations. You have that ability when:

  • Your grandchild’s parents end their marriage through death, annulment, dissolution, divorce or legal separation
  • Your adult child dies, leaving behind a grandchild 
  • Your grandchild’s mother is unmarried and you are either her parent or the parent of your grandchild’s father and paternity has been established

In other words, if your grandchild’s parents are in an intact marriage and they prohibit you from seeing your grandchildren, the court assumes that they know best. You won’t be able to pursue your case because the parents’ right to dictate their child’s association with others is presumed to be absolute.

What other issues have to be addressed before grandchild visitation is ordered?

Even in the above three situations, visitation with a grandchild is not automatically granted. In all cases involving minor children, the court is obligated to consider whether or not the visitation is in a child’s best interest. To those ends, the court may consider things like:

  • What sort of existing relationship and bonds you already have with your grandchild (assuming that they are not an infant) and what harm it might do to sever them
  • What reason the child’s parent or parents have for denying you visitation in the first place
  • Any factors that would tend to make you a danger to your grandchild’s well-being, including any history of domestic violence, addiction or mental health issues
  • The child’s feelings on the situation (if they are old enough to articulate them)

Families are complicated. If you have a conflict with yours over the issue of grandparent visitation rights, legal guidance can help you understand what’s possible and how to best pursue your goals.