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Grandson Sitting with Grandparents

Grandparent Custody Rights in Virginia

Grandparent custody rights in Virginia are a hot topic, and the situation most often arises when the grandchild’s parents are not acting in that child’s best interest. In these cases, the forced grandparents are to file what is known as a 3rd party petition for custody.

The petitioner must show several additional items other than what is in the child’s best interests to be successful.

How Do You Get Grandparents Visitation in Virginia?

First, they must show that they are known as “a person with a legitimate interest.” Blood relatives are presumed to be persons with a legitimate interest.

Second, the person must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that it is in the child’s bests interests to have custody or visitation given to the 3rd party. Only five recognized avenues in Virginia allow for this to be complete. The most common is that the petitioner proves that the parents are unfit.

Finally, in cases where only visitation is requested, the Virginia Courts have ruled that the petitioner must demonstrate that “actual harm” will occur to the child if visitation is not granted. This is a higher standard than if the petitioner asked for full custody of the child.

Upon demonstrating to the VA court “situation to seek visitation,” a grandparent must then prove that visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild.

Among the elements to be considered are:

  • whether grandparents and grandchild have a pre-existing relationship;
  • whether grandparents support a grandchild’s relationship with parents
  • Is there any animosity between the children’s parents and the grandparents?

The abusive relationship between grandparents and the child’s parents is not a sufficient basis upon which the Court determines whether or not visitation with the grandparents is in the child’s best interests.

In Virginia, parents enjoy a very high level of protection from the perceived intrusion of 3rd parties such as grandparents into their relationships with their children. The lawyers at Bush & Taylor have tried countless grandparent custody and visitation cases in cities such as Virginia Beach and Suffolk and have successfully transferred custody to grandparents and others; if you would like to discuss your 3rd party case, call today.