Wirth Law Office - SapulpaCan Grandparents Receive Visitation Rights in Oklahoma?

visitation rightsOne of the most debated issues in family law is whether or not grandparents should have visitation rights. While parents have the primary right to determine how their children are raised, Oklahoma statutes provide certain rights for grandparents as well. This article explains what visitation rights Oklahoma provides for grandparents.

Unfortunately, when the relationship between the mother and father sours, the grandparents find themselves at the mercy of the parents in regards to whether or not they get to see their grandchildren. The good news is that Oklahoma provides certain visitation rights for grandparents. However, like with child custody and visitation rights between parents, grandparent visitation is often decided in court, according to what is in the best interest of the child.

The Oklahoma constitution recognizes the right of parents to raise their children, and, typically, the state will not interfere with this right so long as the parents are fit to do so. On the other hand, when a parent is deemed unfit and or absent, such as in the case of drug abuse, incarceration or premature death, the state recognizes the right of the child to have a relationship with his or her grandparents on that side of the family and encourages this relationship through grandparents’ visitation rights.

Parents may agree on their own to grant visitation rights to the grandparents. In the absence of such an agreement, it will be assumed that the parents are fit and acting in the best interests of their children by denying visitation rights to the grandparents. However, one parent often wants the grandparent to receive visitation rights and the other does not. In these cases, the court will make a determination based on the following:

  1. What is in the best interest of the child, for which the court will evaluate predetermined factors, including:

    1. the grandparent’s preexisting relationship with the child;

    2. the benefit in maintaining the preexisting relationship;

    3. the stability of the child’s family unit and environment;

    4. the ages and preferences of the child; and

    5. the parent’s reasons for denying visitation.

  1. Parental unfitness, clear and convincing evidence from the grandparents that the parents are not acting in the best interest of the child, or evidence that the child would suffer harm without the grandparents having visitation rights.

  1. A disruption in the child’s nuclear family, meaning that the family structure in which the child resides is no longer intact due to divorce, separation, or because the parents were never married.

All three of these requirements must be met before a court order for grandparent visitation will be ordered, and filing a case for visitation without meeting anyone of these requirements is typically discouraged. For more information on what visitation rights Oklahoma provides for grandparents, consult with an experienced family law attorney.

Confidential Consultation: Sapulpa Family Law Attorney

For a free consultation with a Sapulpa family law attorney, call the Wirth Law Office – Sapulpa attorney at (918) 248-0067 or toll-free at (888) 947-8452. You may also submit the question form at the top right of this page. Either way you reach out to us, we will promptly respond to your legal concerns about family law matters.

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