Last year about this time, we wrote about the state of the law in Rhode Island regarding grandparent visitation rights in trying to maintain relationships with their grandchildren. Then, lawmakers were beginning hearings into whether to expand rights curtailed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000. That decision gave the balance of control on such questions to the parents of the children. Since then, changes have been enacted – which allow family courts more leeway in granting grandparents reasonable access.
As is the case in every state, the law requires that the court make such determinations based on what is in the best interests of the child. Now, with the new law, there is more detail in this analysis. And that, in turn, makes outcomes for success somewhat more predictable.
Grandparent Visitation Rights Before
Under previous law, a person could petition the court for grandparent visitation rights under limited conditions. And these changes included:
- Their adult child died
- If the adult child was getting a divorce
- When parental rights were denied to that adult child
- Or if an adult child had not asserted visitation rights for him- or herself
Grandparents' Rights in RI Now
Now, the courts apply the best interests of the child standard in more detail. As a result, the courts grant visitation rights after finding that:
- The petitioning grandparent is “a fit and proper person”
- The petitioner can show a record of trying and failing to see the grandchild in the previous 30 days of filing
- Visitation won’t be possible without court intervention
- There is clear evidence that parents unreasonably restricted visitation with the child
Experienced attorneys understand that child custody and visitation issues are among the most delicate that any family faces. As a result, every case is different. Your case deserves to be handled with the sensitivity necessary to address your unique demands.