In Maryland, grandparents are allowed to ask for visitation at any time. Maryland recognizes the rights grandparents have in seeing their grandchildren and have allowed grandparents to petition the court for visitation rights under certain circumstances.
Before a grandparent applies for visitation rights in Maryland they must meet one of the following:
- if the parents of the child are divorced.
- If the parents have declared their marriage to have no legal existence.
- In the event of one or both parents death.
When determining the factors which can allow a grandparent visitation, the most important one is the status of the parents’ marriage. If the family is intact and normal then the court will often dismiss the grandparent’s petition for visitation.
The first step in applying for visitation is filing a petition form. This is to notify to the court and any other people involved that the grandparent is seeking visitation rights. Written in the formal notice will be the proposed amount of court-ordered time the grandparent is seeking. If the grandparent already has a court-ordered visitation schedule but wants more time with the child or if the child’s parent is interfering with the schedule, then they can petition the court to modify or enforce the order.
Before filing for a petition, the grandparent should be aware of what factors the court will consider before the petition is approved.
Visitation rights will be granted if it is within the best interest of the child. Courts will generally consider the following factors:
- If the child is mentally capable of making his or her own decisions, then the court will consider the child’s preference.
- The needs of the child, and what visitation schedule if any, will not interfere with the child’s needs.
- The past and present relationship the child has with the grandparent.
- Whether visitation will impact the child’s ability to focus on school and extracurricular activities.
- The court will also look at the mental and physical health of both the child and grandparent applying for visitation.
In Maryland, there is a legal assumption 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 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.
When applying for grandparent visitation, the grandparent must overcome this legal assumption. The grandparent must prove to the court that the parent is unable to make reasonable parenting decisions. This can be shown through any previous abandonment or cruelty toward 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 a risk of emotional harm if the child is deprived of seeing his or her grandparent. If the grandparent manages to overcome this legal assumption, then they are now considered equal with the parent. In order to win visitation rights 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.
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. B