Grandparents are an important part of many people’s lives, and if you have been fortunate enough to know and love one or more grandparents, you understand how deep a grandparent’s love can be. Grandparents provide support and love to so many families, but not all grandparents get to experience their children’s children on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis.
When marriages and relationships between parents fracture or dissolve, there are almost always other people in that family who suffer. Often, those people are children and grandparents. If you are a grandparent trying to visit your grandchildren, or if you’re a parent trying to get your child time with his grandparent, you will need an Arkansas family law attorney to help navigate this difficult, stressful, and sometimes heart wrenching process.
Grandparent Visitation Statutes in Arkansas
Almost all family law matters are decided by state laws, and for many years, grandparent custody issues have been a topic of debate. State legislatures must balance parental constitutional rights to care for and control children against the benefits of maintaining grandparent/grandchild relationships. The goal of any state government is to always place children in the care of someone who will have their best interest at heart. But sometimes it’s not always clear which family members will best care for minor children.
Unfortunately, grandparents are often used as pawns to punish one of the parents. Angry and hurt men and women may keep their children away from the parents and family members of their former partner to punish them for whatever wrongs they feel were inflicted upon them. Keeping children from loving grandparents is just one of the many challenges that families and children of divorce endure.
The Arkansas grandparent visitation statute has specific requirements that a grandparent must prove in order to establish a grandparental right to visitation of minor children. In Arkansas a grandparent or great-grandparent may file a petition for visitation in circuit court for “reasonable visitation” when:
- The parents of the grandchild were married, divorced or legally separated, or one parent has passed away.
- In cases in which the child was born outside of marriage, the maternal or paternal grandparents may petition if the father’s paternity was adjudicated in a court of law.
If a custodial parent denies visitation to a grandparent, the rebutting parent must prove two specific things:
- The grandparent has a “significant and viable” relationship with the grandchild.
- Visitation between the two would be in the child’s best interest
To prove a “significant and viable” relationship, any one of the following must be shown:
- The grandchild lived with the grandparent for at least six straight months
- The grandparent regularly cared for the grandchild for at least six straight months
- The grandparent had frequent or regular contact with the grandchild for at least 12 straight months
- Losing the grandparent-grandchild relationship would likely harm the child
A grandparent trying to show that visitation would be in the best interest of the child must prove all three of these:
- That he or she is able to love and guide the grandchild
- That losing the relationship would likely harm the child
- That the grandparent would cooperate with the custodial parent concerning visitation
If you are fighting to see your grandchildren, want your children to visit their grandparents, or want to keep your children away from a dangerous or unhealthy situation involving grandparents or great-grandparents, please contact us right away. Arkansas courts strive to place children in the care of those who will best care for them, and those who truly have their best interests at heart.