Grandparents Rights in Missouri
In most cases, child custody and visitation matters primarily involve a child’s parents, but there are exceptions. Grandparents are greatly involved with child-rearing in many families, often serving as the main caretakers. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 10 percent of children live with a grandparent and 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren.
However, even in circumstances in which grandparents are the main caretakers to grandchildren, many states have restricted rights to custody and visitation. A grandparent may also have to deal with limited access to grandchildren if their child gets divorced and is not given primary custody of the grandchildren, especially if the custodial parent denies reasonable visitation.
These laws, and those governing how and when a grandparent can be awarded visitation or custody, are known as grandparents’ rights. The primary function of these rights is to make sure that a child has access to the psychological and developmental advantages of having a grandparent in their life.
To help you better understand how these laws may apply to you, the Springfield family law professionals at Masterson Law have created this quick guide to grandparents’ rights in Missouri.
Below, you will find info and tips on grandparents’ rights in child custody and visitation cases, summaries of state laws and procedures, as well as factors the courts consider when making custody and visitation choices involving grandparents.
Does Missouri Have Grandparents Rights?
In short: yes. Missouri’s grandparents’ rights extend to visitation and custody, but there are some limitations. Missouri has very particular laws on this subject and a procedure in which a grandparent might ask a court to establish visitation rights.
Are There Grandparents Rights in Missouri?
In its reasoning, the Missouri Supreme Court explained that although parents have a constitutional right to make choices impacting their family, the statute is sensible both due to the fact that it involves very little invasion on household relationships and since it is directly designed to safeguard the interest of the children.
Do Grandparents Have Rights In Missouri?
The Missouri court may award grandparent visitation under particular situations. Missouri law supports contact between grandparent and grandchild while trying to motivate parents to solve household disagreements without court intervention.
In an effort to strike a balance between these two interests, Missouri law allows grandparent visitation in limited scenarios. Keep in mind, however, that there is no ensured right for a grandparent to have visitation with a grandchild. We will discuss this in further detail below.
Missouri Grandparents Rights Involving Visitation
Most grandparents’ rights laws primarily concern visitation. In Missouri, grandparents have a legal right to request court-ordered visitation so long as it is not excessive or invasive to the family.
Missouri Grandparents Visitation Rights
Missouri’s grandparents’ visitation rights only extend to biological grandparents and might be used if:
- The child’s parents are married and apply for legal separation or divorce Springfield MO
- The surviving parent unreasonably denied visitation rights after one parent’s death, or
- The child’s parents have never been married and the grandparent is unreasonably denied visitation for more than 90 days.
How Grandparent Visitation Rights in Missouri Are Determined
Under Missouri law, the grandparent requesting visitation has the burden of proof to reveal that the proposed visitation schedule will be in the child’s best interests, with the child’s health, safety, and well-being in mind.
Judges immediately presume that parents act in their kids’ best interest, so they often prioritize parental preferences concerning who spends time with their children. If your grandchild’s parent denies reasonable visitation, the court will consider this objection and thoroughly weigh it against the kid’s desire to spend time with you. If you effectively conquer this presumption, you must be able to show that routine contact with you serves the kid’s best interest based upon any appropriate proof with the help of a family law attorney. This includes:
- The kid’s age
- The effect of the visitation on the kid’s physical or psychological health
- The psychological and physical health, and criminal history of all involved parties, and
- The level of the existing grandparent-grandchild relationship
The court might think about a child’s desires and/or select a custody evaluator to examine each parent’s and/or each grandparent’s desire and capability to fulfill the kid’s requirements, interests, and everyday schedule. If the court determines that the proposed time serves the kid’s benefit, it might embrace it but can likewise enforce conditions or constraints in the visitation order.
Grandparent Rights in Missouri Involving Custody
Another aspect of grandparents’ rights in Missouri is custody. Courts acknowledge that under particular situations, the best interests of a child call for custody to be granted to an individual aside from the child’s natural parents. In such a scenario, a grandparent might be the best individual to obtain custody.
Missouri courts immediately presume that custody with natural parents remains in a child’s best interest unless enough proof warrants a different plan. Conditions for a grandparent to obtain custody vary from those conditions needed for visitation rights.
Grandparents Custody Rights in Missouri
Before a court may award custody of a child to a person other than the child’s natural parents, the court must find that both natural parents are unfit, unsuitable, unwilling, or unable to hold primary custody of the child, or that some other extraordinary circumstance exists. The most common extraordinary circumstance is a child who has been raised for many years by a grandparent while the natural parent has been absent. If this is the case, our child custody lawyers Springfield can help you pursue custody of your grandchild.
Contact a Lawyer About Grandparents Rights in MO
Most grandparents would do anything to invest more time with their grandchildren, but family relationships can be complicated. Many states acknowledge the rights of people to visit their grandchildren, presuming it remains in the very best interests of the kid.
If you are a grandparent who has been rejected access to your grandchildren, you should talk to a legal representative about your rights. There is a conditional balance under the law so that the rights of parents are not infringed upon by the court; however, that does not indicate that kids should be kept from their grandparents in case of a divorce. While parents have constitutional rights to make choices for their kid, grandparent visitation rights do not totally attack those rights since in some cases it is in the child’s best interest.
If you wish to prevent court involvement in the matter, our firm can help you pursue mediation concerning the visitation problem. With mediation or dispute resolution Springfield MO, a neutral third party can facilitate a discussion between all involved parties and help everyone come to a mutual visitation agreement.
Here at Masterson Law, we understand that grandparents can be an important part of a child’s life, and the bond between the two should be protected. If you wish to defend your right to visit with or obtain custody of your grandchildren, contact our Springfield, Missouri family law attorney today for a consultation.