Grandparent Visitation Rights
Grandparents’ Rights in Delaware
Are you a grandparent seeking visitation rights or custody of a grandchild? Gaining visitation as a grandparent often requires the support of experienced legal counsel. In Delaware, you may be able to obtain visitation or custody of a grandchild under the age of 18 through a child Guardianship proceeding. Grandparents have certain rights in Delaware when it comes to what is best for their grandchildren.
A child’s mental and emotional well-being can be greatly improved by having a grandparent in their life, and the grandparent’s life can also be enriched. The state of Delaware will consider this during a grandparent’s petition for custody or visitation rights.
Do Grandparents Even Have Rights in a Custody Battle?
Parental rights are protected by the Constitution, allowing parents to oversee their child’s upbringing and who their child visits. Each state also has some form of grandparent visitation. If your grandchild’s parent has cut off your relationship with your grandchild, you may be able to receive legal support and secure some visitation if there are certain factors present.
Visitation Rights of Grandparents
In Delaware, a grandparent may be able to petition a court for visitation with their grandchild. You may be able to seek visitation if it is in the best interest of the child and:
- The parent has died.
- One of the child’s parents consents to visitation.
- The minor child has been abused or neglected while in the care of the parent.
- You have shown that the parent’s objection to visitation is unreasonable, and your visits will not interfere with the child’s relationship with their parent.
To support your petition for visitation rights, you may want to encourage the relationship between the child and their biological parents. As long as there are no signs of neglect or abuse, it is in your best interest and the best interest of the child to facilitate the relationship between the child and parents.
How to Win Custody of a Grandchild
Delaware has custody laws that allow courts to allocate custody of a minor child to grandparents. Since a child’s parents have a significant influence on the child’s development, a Delaware court will be more inclined to grant custody to a child’s biological parents, which can make gaining custody as a grandparent a challenge.
To gain custody as a grandparent, you must be able to prove that the child’s biological parent consents to the arrangement, or the child would be dependent, neglected or abused in the parent’s care.
Some situations may be easier for grandparents to gain custody, like if both of the child’s parents are deceased or addicted to opioids. In other situations, the fight for custody may be more difficult, like if one parent is deceased and the grandparents of the deceased parent are trying to gain custody. Regardless of how straightforward or challenging the process may be, the fight is well worth it if it means a better life for your grandchildren.
Can a Grandparent Adopt After Loss of Parental Rights?
In short, a grandparent only has rights in a custody battle in Delaware when a court terminates a parent’s rights. Adoption is permanent and allows a grandparent to become the child’s legal parent. When you adopt a grandchild, you will have all the responsibilities and rights of a parent. An adoptive child is entitled to the same rights and privileges as if they had been born to their adoptive parents, including the right to inherit from their adoptive parents.
The following are some of the requirements for a grandparent to adopt a grandchild in Delaware but you should discuss your specific situation with an attorney:
- A grandparent who wants to adopt a grandchild must have the child in their household continuously for a minimum of one year.
- There must be little chance of the birth parent taking their parental responsibility any time in the near future.
- Children who are at least 14 years old must give written consent to the adoption, which is required to be submitted along with the adoption petition to Family Court.
- Both of the child’s birth parents must terminate their parental rights.
Though adoption is not a quick or easy process, it will give you legal parental rights to take care of your grandchildren.
Non-Parent Relatives and Visitation Rights
What are the non-parent custody rights in Delaware? In Delaware, non-parent relatives may petition for visitation. This can be completed by filling out the necessary forms, which are part of an explanatory packet.
Typically, the case will go to mediation after the papers are served. There are some exceptions, such as when:
- Evidence of domestic violence has been found.
- There is currently a no-contact order in place.
- One of the parties is defined by Delaware law as a sex offender.
The goal is for the parties to go through mediation to come to an agreement. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, a court date will then be set.
Understanding the Statutes
Under the Delaware statutes, third party visitation is permitted for grandparents. In many circumstances, a grandparent can visit their grandchild. However, if the grandchild’s parents live together as a married couple and both object to the visitation, visitation cannot be granted to a grandparent unless the court determines the visitation is in the best interest of the child.
Best Interest Standards
To assess a child’s best interests, the courts in Delaware will consider the following:
- The emotional and physical needs of the child.
- The child’s relationship with their grandparents.
- The mental and physical health of the grandparents.
- The child’s adjustment to their community, home and school.
- The child’s wishes as to their custody and living arrangements.
- The wishes of the biological parents as to the custody and living arrangements of the child.
- The child’s relationship with their parents, grandparents, siblings and other household members.
- How well each of the child’s parents has satisfied their parental responsibilities in the past and what may be expected of the parent in the future.
- The criminal history of anyone in the household, including criminal convictions, pleas of no contest and guilty pleas.
- Whether the grandparent has a criminal history.
- Whether there is evidence of domestic violence.
Hire an Attorney at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya
Do you believe you’ve been denied your visitation rights as a grandparent? If so, you can seek legal assistance from a family law attorney at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya. Our family law attorneys are experienced in handling rights cases for grandparents.
At Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya, we carefully and fairly analyze the legal problems our clients are facing, along with the law and the options that may be available. To hire an attorney, contact us today.