Grandparents’ Rights To Raise Grandchildren In Virginia
Unfortunately, divorce can be very unpleasant for all concerned, and sometimes child custody becomes a contentious issue. In some situations, grandparents may feel the need to request formal visitation rights, or even to seek sole or joint custody of their grandchildren.
According to an article in VA Lawyer Magazine, published by the Virginia Bar Association, Virginia Code Section 20.124.1 states that grandparents are considered among the persons with a “legitimate interest” in the welfare of a child. The statute goes on, however, to say that the parent-child relationship takes primacy, and that any “non-parent” has a higher standard of proof to show that they are worthy of consideration as a custodial guardian of a child. A grandparent must show “clear and convincing evidence” that they have the best interests of the child in mind.
Factors determining grandparents’ rights to visitation or custody
Virginia Code Section 20.124.3 provides the factors that judges may consider when deciding whether a grandparent may assume custody of a grandchild, including, but not limited to:
- The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs
- The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
- The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child
- The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members
- The role that each parent has played and will play in the future in the upbringing and care of the child
Virginia has a broad history of case law concerning grandparents’ rights in child custody cases, and an experienced attorney can be of tremendous help. Darrell M. Harding, Attorney at Law has been helping grandparents in Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach assert their rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren for more than two decades.