In certain circumstances, grandparents do have legal rights in Ohio to custody or grandparent visitation.
A grandparent may file a complaint or petition for custody in certain circumstances and the Court will grant the petition if it can be proven that both parents are unfit or unsuitable to parent the child. This is becoming more and more prevalent with the drug epidemic in Ohio. In some cases, Children’s Services is involved in a dependency, neglect, or abuse case and the grandparent can intervene into the case with permission of the Court and request the Court to grant them custody of the child. In other cases, the grandparents can simply file a petition or motion with the court to grant custody of the child to them. If the grandparents prove to the Court that both parents are unfit or unsuitable, then the Court needs to determine that it is in the best interests of the minor child that the Court grant custody to the grandparents.
Under Ohio law, a Court can award visitation rights to a Grandparent during or after a domestic relations proceeding if the Grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the grandchild, and visitation is in the grandchild’s best interests. In Ohio, grandparents can seek court-ordered visitation by statute in three circumstances: (1) when married parents terminate their marriage or separate, (2) when a parent of a child is deceased, and (3) when the child is born to an unmarried woman. In such cases, a court may order reasonable visitation if it is in the best interest of the child. Grandparents can file a motion in a divorce case seeking visitation with the grandchild, even after the Divorce has been granted, asking the Court to award them their own visitation schedule with their grandchild. Ohio courts must consider a parent’s wishes when deciding whether to award visitation, and the court must also consider whether grandparent visitation would be in the child’s best interest.
Unless your child is willing to agree to signing over custody or granting visitation of your grandchild , these cases oftentimes end in litigation. It is important that you discuss your rights with an attorney to determine your best course of action.