Rights of Grandparents, Relatives, and Other Non-Parents

In Ohio, certain third parties (persons who are not the child’s parents) may be granted companionship or visitation rights with a child by a court (1) if the child’s mother was unmarried when the child was born, (2) in a proceeding for divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, or child support case or after a decree or final order is issued if circumstances have changed, or (3) if one of the child’s parents is deceased.

In making its decision on granting companionship or visitation rights to third parties, a court must consider all relevant factors, including all of the factors specified in statute.  These factors include:

  • the wishes and concerns of the child’s parents;
  • the prior interaction and interrelationships of the child with parents and other relatives;
  • the geographical location of the parent’s residence;
  • the child’s and parents’ available time;
  • the child’s age;
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
  • the wishes of the child if the court has interviewed the child;
  • the health and safety of the child;
  • the amount of time that a child has available to spend with siblings;
  • the mental and physical health of all parties; and
  • whether the person seeking visitation has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving an act that resulted in a child being abused or neglected.

The court can grant companionship or visitation rights if, after considering these factors, it determines that visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Differing Rights for Differing Situations

Although one would hope that a court has the ability to further a child’s best interests by maintaining relationships deemed to be in the child’s best interests, such is not the case and depends on the child’s parents, whether they were married or not when the child was born, and other circumstances beyond the control of the child.

The marriage or remarriage of a child’s parent does not affect the court’s authority to grant or modify third-party companionship or visitation rights.

The effect of a stepparent adoption on a child’s relationships with relatives differs depending on the circumstances.  In the case of a child whose parent has died, Ohio law provides that the right to visitation of a relative is not restricted or curtailed by the adoption.  Also, in that situation, the adoption of a child by a stepparent does not affect the authority of the court to grant reasonable companionship or visitation rights with respect to the child.

But, in the case of a stepparent adoption of a child whose parents are divorced or separated or a child born to an unmarried woman, the Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a provision of Ohio law providing that a final decree of adoption terminates all legal relationships between the adopted person and the adopted person’s relatives and has the effect of terminating third-party visitation rights after the adoption, regardless of whether the child is adopted by strangers, relatives, or a stepparent.

Under Ohio law, when a child’s parent dies, a relative of the deceased parent can seek visitation rights.

In the case of a child whose mother was unmarried when the child was born, the court can grant visitation to the child’s maternal relatives and visitation can be granted to the relatives of the father only if paternity has been established.

In a case of a child whose parents are divorced or separated, grandparents, relatives and other persons can be granted visitation rights.  These other persons can include anyone having a deep interest in the welfare of the child and need not be a relative of any kind.  Former long-term partners can seek visitation rights with a child he or she helped raise, but only if the child’s parents were married.

When granting visitation rights in all cases, the court may grant companionship or visitation rights if it determines that granting companionship or visitation rights is in the best interest of the child.

Family Attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd has experience seeking and obtaining visitation and companionship rights for children.

Grandparent Caretaker Affidavits and Powers of Attorney

A parent may create a power of attorney that grants to a grandparent any of the parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the care, physical custody, and control of the child, under a Grandparent Caretaker Power of Attorney.  This authority can include the ability to enroll the child in school, to consent to all school-related matters, and to obtain healthcare services for the child.

A Grandparent power of attorney may be executed only if one of the following circumstances exists:

(1) The parent is:

(a) Seriously ill, incarcerated or about to be incarcerated;

(b) Temporarily unable to provide financial support or parental guidance to the child;

(c) Temporarily unable to provide adequate care and supervision of the child because of the parent’s, guardian’s, or custodian’s physical or mental condition;

(d) Homeless or without a residence because the current residence is destroyed or otherwise uninhabitable; or

(e) In or about to enter a residential treatment program for substance abuse; OR

(2) One of the child’s parents is deceased and the other parent, with authority to do so, seeks to execute a power of attorney; or

(3) The parent, guardian, or custodian has a well-founded belief that the power of attorney is in the child’s best interest.

This Grandparent power of attorney terminates after one year (unless extended), it is revoked in writing, the child no longer lives with the grandparent, the court terminates it, or the grandparent or the child dies.  The power of attorney must be filed with Juvenile Court.

Attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd has experience and knowledge regarding the rights of grandparents and other relatives of the children.  Call today to schedule an appointment with family lawyer Melissa Graham-Hurd.

THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED TO BE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF GRANDPARENT AND OTHER RELATIVE RIGHTS AND IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES.  IT IS ONLY INTENDED TO ASSIST YOU IN UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS.

IF YOU SHOULD HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE OFFICE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT – 330-996-4099