When two parents get divorced they already have a lot on their plate to deal with, such as separation of financial and monetary assets and deciding who gets custody of the children. Once the court decides which parent will be the custodial parent and which parent will be the non-custodial or non-residential parent the issues of visitation and supervised visitation crop up.
This won’t be the case if the parents are given joint custody of the child/children. But if one parent gets sole custody and the other parent gets visitation rights then what about the grandparents of the children or the grandparents of the non-custodial parent and their visitation rights?
Visitation rights of grandparents differ from state to state in different countries. Firstly, the court has to arrive at the conclusion that even though the parents are divorced the child still shares a very strong bond with one or both grandparents. There should be a pre-existing relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent that has led to the development of a strong bond. The court will also see if it’s in the best interest of the child to see his grandparents or have them visit.
If the court is satisfied that the child takes immense pleasure and gains a lot of happiness from seeing, interacting and spending time with his or her grandparents and if the parents give their approval for the same and have no objections then the court will grant visitation rights to the grandparents. Grandparents will also be granted visitation rights when –
- The child’s parents are divorced/separated
- A stepparent has adopted the grandchild
- The parents cannot be found and have been missing for over a month
- The child does not live with either parent
- If either parent supports the grandparents’ petition for granting visitation rights
Supervised visitation is allowed by the court when parents want a divorce due to irreconcilable differences and only one parent gets sole custody of the child. The court decides which parent gets sole custody of the child and which parent gets visitation/supervised visitation rights based on both parents’ financial status, personal history, and background and the happiness and welfare of the child.
However, a court can restrict the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights on the following grounds –
- If the non-residential or non-custodial parent has a history of physical abuse or violence with the spouse or in general. If the parent abuses or threatens the child in any way including the other parent in front of the child even with the court-appointed supervisor present, his visitation rights can be restricted or canceled. The court looks into the safety and well-being of the child first and the child’s safety is given first priority in such cases. Emotional and mental abuse inflicted onto the child in any way such as making the child cry, wet his pants, making him nervous, anxious or scared is also grounds for restriction of visitation rights.
- The court can also restrict the parent’s visitation rights based on the wishes and preferences of the child. For example, in the state of California if the child is 14 years and above he or she can decide the parents’ visitation rights and denial or restriction of such rights if required. The minimum age of the child differs from country to country and state to state. If the child can understand what kind of decision is being made and wants a role in the decision making the judge will certainly allow it.
- Other grounds for visitation restriction include drug and alcohol abuse by the visiting parent, instances of the parent exhibiting any kind of sexual or unusual/abnormal behavior with the child, past felonies, criminal records, non-adherence to visitation rules, incarceration, abduction of the child, etc.