Maryland law allows grandparents to ask for visitation in the events of a life-altering family structure such as divorce or death of one parent. Grandparents may also seek reasonable visitation with their grandchildren at any time they wish as long as it is within the child’s best interests.
The grandparent asking for visitation must provide sufficient evidence to the court showing that this visitation time is within the best interest of the child. This includes matters regarding the child’s health, safety and welfare. The court will only grant visitation if it is within the best interest of the child and will only order visitation if certain elements are present. Despite objections from the custodial parent the court is unlikely to grant visitation to a grandparent. The court will only order visitation in the circumstances that (1) the grandparent brings evidence that the custodial parent is an unfit parent. (2) If the custodial parent has denied the grandparent visitation. (3) And that denying visitation will harm the child in any way.
In Maryland, judges will automatically assume that the parent’s objection of granting a grandparent visitation time was because the parent is acting within the child’s best interest. The court will also favour the parent’s preference over the grandparent with regard to who gets to spend time with the child. If the child’s parent objects to visitation then the grandparent must try and overcome this legal assumption.
In order to overcome this assumption, the grandparent must show that the parent is unable to make reasonable parenting decisions, such as proving previous abandonment, violence towards the child, engaging in conduct which may harm the child or if the parent is physically or mentally unable to make decisions for the child. The grandparent will also have to prove to the court that denying visitation will harm the child in any way. This includes abuse, neglect, and risk of emotional harm if the child is deprived of seeing his or her grandparent. This evidence must be concrete and not just assumptions. If the grandparent successfully manages to overcome this legal assumption then the grandparent must demonstrate to the court that regular contact serves the child’s best interest. This can be proved with matters regarding the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
In Maryland, in the case that the child is adopted, by any person other than a stepparent then the grandparent’s visitation rights will be terminated. The grandparent’s visitation rights will be transferred to the adoptive grandparents. However, the adoptive parents can agree to a proposed visitation time if they want.
In order for a grandparent to get visitation rights in Maryland, they must first file a petition to the court. This formal request will notify the parents of the child and the court that the grandparent is seeking visitation rights. In this petition the grandparent will propose the schedule for court ordered visits. If a visitation order is in place already, but the grandparent wants more time or the parent’s child is interfering, then the grandparent can petition the court to modify this order.
If you need a Maryland grandparents lawyer to help you with your child custody case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland grandparents attorneys can help you.