The right of grandparents to visit their grandchildren is an often misunderstood area of Kentucky law. In my family law practice, I frequently meet with grandparents who have been shut out of their grandchildren’s lives after a divorce or child custody case. Sometimes these grandparents enjoyed a close relationship with the grandchildren, and even raised them, prior to the divorce or custody case. Many people believe that Kentucky does not have grandparent rights. This is not exactly true. To shed some light on this misunderstood area of the law, we answer three important questions.

Can grandparents get visitation?

Yes, but only if the court believes it is in the best interests of the grandchild. The Kentucky Supreme Court declared in Walker v. Blair that a fit parent must be presumed to act in the best interest of his or her child. This means if a parent is denying visitation to a grandparent, the court will presume that the parent is acting in the child’s best interest.

To overcome this presumption, a grandparent must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent is mistaken in his or her belief that grandparent visitation is not what is best for the child. The grandparent must point to a relationship with the grandchild that is so significant that stopping the relationship would cause distress to the child.

How does the court decide if it is in the grandchild’s best interests?

The Court looks at various factors when deciding whether grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest. These include:

  • The nature and stability of the relationship between grandparent and child;
  • The amount of time spent together;
  • The effect of allowing grandparent visitation on the relationship between the child and the parent;
  • The physical and emotional health of all involved; and
  • The wishes and preferences of the child if the child is old enough and mature enough to testify

As a grandparent, how do I begin the process of getting visitation rights?

The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey suggest you first talk to the child’s parent. Many times, issues such as this can be solved outside of the courtroom and everyone can save a lot of heartache, time, and money. If you cannot agree, you should seek the advice and assistance of a lawyer.