Grandparents in Kentucky have rights to visit their grandchildren, but there are some key stipulations. If you have questions about seeking custody of or visitation with your grandchild, the legal team at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey explains some of the regulations. 

When Do You Have Grandparents’ Rights? 

The Kentucky Legislature has recognized that when grandparents have a “significant and viable” relationship with their grandchild, visitation is likely in the child’s best interest. However, this doesn’t mean grandparents are automatically granted visitation rights. There are several different scenarios in which a grandparent may or may not have visitation rights.

Parental allowance

According to the United States Supreme Court, a fit parent has the right to determine who may or may not visit their child. If a custodial, fit parent decides that they don’t want their child to have contact or visitation with any or all grandparents, that decision may be final. Courts are required to presume that fit parents act in the best interest of their children, and this is an extremely difficult obstacle to hurdle when trying to gain visitation rights with one’s grandchildren.

The more likely question in situations like this is whether or not the custodial parent is actually “fit.” If the parent is found to be unfit, then it would likely be an issue of custody rather than visitation.

Non-parental custody

The situation is different when a non-parent is granted custody of a child. When this happens, the right to deny visitation and the presumption that the custodian is acting in the child’s best interest is no longer present. Grandparents in a situation in which the child’s other grandparents or someone else was granted custody will have a much easier burden to overcome when attempting to gain visitation rights. 

Kentucky has recognized that in situations like this, grandparents have a right to visitation if it’s in the best interest of the child. At this point, it’s up to the court to decide, and the Kentucky Supreme Court has outlined what will be considered when grandparents seek visitation rights.

How Courts Determine Grandparents’ Rights

Factors a court considers essentially amount to the nature of the relationship between the child and the grandparents requesting visitation. This includes:

  • The motivation of the adults involved in seeking visitation 
  • The amount of time grandparents have spent with the child
  • The stability of the child’s life, including effects on their relationship with their parents
  • What the benefits or detriments of the visitation would be for the child, 
  • The child’s wishes

These factors aren’t evaluated in a vacuum: courts view each case in light of the circumstances surrounding it. Depending on the situation, some factors may be relevant and others may not. For example, the Kentucky Supreme Court has recognized that “in recent years, many grandparents have become increasingly involved in their grandchildren’s lives.” This means the courts realize that many grandparents have cared for and even raised their grandchildren and will be more sympathetic when faced with requests in these situations. 

Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Central Kentucky Attorney?

For nearly half a century, Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey has been one of the most respected firms in the region for providing families with the financial and legal knowledge they need to thrive. We serve clients throughout Central Kentucky, including Hardin County, Meade County, LaRue County, Breckinridge County, and Grayson County. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation.