Grandparents often play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. They can be a source of love, support and guidance as well as act as strong role models.
In some families, grandparents may be denied access to their grandchildren, however. This may occur because of family conflict and can be very difficult for the grandparents.
They may want more information about their options to remain connected to their grandchildren. While grandparents do not automatically have rights to visitation or custody of their grandchildren, they can petition the court for these responsibilities.
In Virginia, grandparents can file a petition with the court to request visitation with their grandchildren. Generally, the court places a high value on the parents’ fundamental rights to raise their children, so grandparents must demonstrate that visitation is in the best interest of the children.
The court may consider several factors including the relationship between the grandchildren and the grandparent, the child’s age, the child’s preference if they are old enough to decide and whether it will support the child’s overall well-being.
In some situations, grandparents may want to petition for custody of their grandchildren. This may apply in situations where the parents are unfit to care for the child, where the child’s living situation is unstable or safe, or where the parents are deceased.
The court may review the grandparents’ fitness, their overall health, potential disruption to the child’s life due to the change, and whether it is appropriate for the child to maintain contact with their parents, if applicable.