Do Grandparents Have Legal Rights?

For many tight-knit families, grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren's lives. When parents divorce, however, sometimes grandparents can get the short end of the stick. Fortunately, there are laws that protect grandparents from being separated from their grandchildren in the event of divorce or separation in the family.

Visitation

In Oregon, a grandparent can petition for an order establishing visitation rights. In many divorce cases, this is not necessary – both parents remain committed to allowing both sets of grandparents to visit their grandchildren. In some cases, obtaining a legal visitation order is necessary to ensure this happens.

In order for the court to grant a grandparent visitation rights, the grandparent must show:

  • An established “ongoing personal relationship” with the child;
  • That the grandparent seeking visitation has provided evidence sufficient to prove that the legal parent or parents were not acting in the child’s best interests by deciding to prevent or limit the grandparent’s visitation with the child; and
  • That it is in the child’s best interests for the grandparent to have visitation with the child.

Grandparents deserve the opportunity to get to know and establish relationships with their grandchildren. If this has become a problem for you, you may have the ability to petition with the family court. You can do this either during the divorce proceedings, during separation proceedings, or after – if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

Custody

Sometimes grandparents may petition for legal custody over their grandchildren. This can be difficult, but if you can show that the child's legal parents are not acting in the child's best interest and that you have established a "child-parent relationship" with your grandchild, Oregon law allows you to ask the court for third party custody.

The Oregon family law attorneys at McKinley Irvin are committed to protecting their clients' best interests. If you are a grandparent and have concerns about the time you are allowed to spend with your grandchildren, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation.