Protecting Oklahoma Grandparents Visitation Rights
The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren can be strong, and maintaining this relationship can be emotionally beneficial for everyone involved. However, there are certain situations in which a parent will refuse to allow their child to visit with grandparents. In these cases, grandparents often ask, “do grandparents have visitation rights in Oklahoma“?
The answer is yes, but with limitations.
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that as long as parental rights have not been terminated, parents have the constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their child, which includes deciding whether the child can have a relationship with a grandparent.
On the other hand, Oklahoma law also recognizes a grandparent’s right to visitation with grandchildren under certain circumstances. Even if a parent denies visitation, a court may order visitation rights if a grandparent can show it is in the best interests of the child. While this visitation is subject to certain limitations, it makes it possible for a grandparent to provide the guidance and support they would like to their grandchild.
If you have questions about grandparents visitation rights in Oklahoma, you should speak with a Tulsa grandparents’ rights attorney. We can discuss the possibility of obtaining legal visitation rights to ensure you are able to continue the relationship both you and your grandchild deserve.
Research: Grandparents and Grandchildren Both Benefit from Having a Relationship
Social science studies have long shown that intergenerational relationships within families are extremely healthy for both sides. Not only does a strong grandparent-grandchild bond indicate an overall strong family, but grandparents also have a wealth of stories and life lessons to teach a child. They can also help grandchildren understand the past due to their firsthand historical accounts.
Further, children benefit from more adults who love and nurture them, as long as the adults are mentally healthy. Studies indicate that close relationships can result in greater mental sharpness for grandparents and fewer emotional and behavioral issues for grandchildren.
In order to reap all these benefits, the grandparents and grandchildren must spend time together. This can become a problem if parents divorce or one parent passes away, and the custodial or living parent refuses to allow their child to see their grandparents. Fortunately, our legal team knows how to get grandparents visitation rights whenever possible.
When Can Grandparents Seek Visitation in Oklahoma
Grandparents cannot be granted visitation rights if the grandchild’s nuclear family is intact and both parents object to grandparent visitation. In this case, the decision of the parents will stand unless their parental rights are terminated for some reason. If the grandparent’s child has parental right terminated, it can be difficult to obtain visitation rights.
However, there are many other situations in which a grandparent may seek – and be granted – visitation rights from the court. Some of these situations include:
- The court finds visitation is in the best interests of the child
- The grandparent shows that withholding visitation would harm or potentially harm the child
- The parent is deemed to be unfit
- A divorce or death disrupts the nuclear family
- Someone else was awarded legal custody of the grandchild, such as a foster parent (note that a grandparent may also become a foster parent of a grandchild)
- One parent is incarcerated
- One parent deserted or abandoned the child
- The parents are not married and do not live together
- The parental rights of both parents are terminated
Keep in mind that, in most situations, a grandparent must prove they had a pre-existing relationship with the child that is strong and continuous. A grandparent generally cannot come out of the woodwork when family turmoil arises and claim they should have a right to a relationship with a grandchild if they previously did not maintain such a relationship.
Once a grandparent obtains a visitation order from the court, they should comply with the court order and make sure to continue the relationship. Courts may not terminate grandparent visitation rights of a child when the grandparent’s child is deceased, and a new spouse of the surviving parent adopts the child, unless it is in the best interests of the child and the grandparent has a chance to appear in court.
Further, if a grandparent takes the initiative to get visitation rights and actively exercises those rights to build a healthy relationship with a grandchild, they can be in a better position for the following, if needed:
- Grandparent custody of a grandchild
- Grandparent foster care of a grandchild
- Grandparent adoption of a grandchild
Protect Your Oklahoma Grandparents Visitation Rights Now
If you are seeking visitation rights to a grandchild in Oklahoma, you should contact our office to schedule a consultation with a Tulsa grandparents’ rights attorney as soon as you can. This process can be complicated, though a successful result can result in years of meaningful contact with a grandchild that can last well into their adulthood. Please contact Wirth Law Office Oklahoma grandparents rights lawyers at (918) 879-1681 for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your rights and options today.