Visitation rights for Alaskan grandparents
Many grandparents find that they never get to spend enough time with their grandchildren, because of the distance from their children or work obligations. Following a divorce or the death of a child, some grandparents may find that they are no longer able to see their grandchildren.
Each state has its own specific requirements when it comes to grandparent visitation and custody. Some states are very strict and only allow grandparents to petition the court for visitation if the grandchild actually lived with the grandparent. Other state laws are broader and review what is in the best interest of the child.
When a relationship becomes strained and access to a grandchild is restricted, a grandparent’s rights attorney can explain the process for requesting regular visitation.
Limits on grandparent visitation rights
A United States Supreme Court case decided in 2000 placed some restrictions on the rights of grandparents. In Troxel v. Granville, the court held that a Washington state law that allowed any interested third party to seek visitation rights was too broad.
The case came about after the death of a father. The mother allowed the paternal grandparents frequent visits with their grandchildren until she remarried. At that point, she started to limit the visits with the paternal grandparents.
After the visits were restricted, the grandparents sought court-ordered visitation with their grandkids. The third-party visitation law in effect at the time allowed the grandparents to ask for visitation and the court found that visitation was in the best interests of the grandchildren.
The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed. One of the worries expressed by the justices was that the statute infringed on parental rights. The case had the effect of limiting grandparent’s visitation rights.
Alaska’s legal requirements
Alaska leans on the more permissive side and allows grandparents to petition the superior court if the grandparent has or has attempted “ongoing personal contact with the child.” The superior court reviews whether visitation is in the best interests of the child when deciding reasonable visitation rights between the grandparent and the child.
A grandparent can sometimes intervene in a divorce or custody dispute between the parents to seek visitation rights. In some cases, it may be best to wait until the parents have sorted out their custody issues. Even after the issuance of final child custody order, a grandparent who did not request visitation during the prior proceedings can bring a request.
If refused time with your grandkids, contact an Alaska grandparent’s rights attorney. A lawyer can explain the procedure for filing a request for visitation and assist with the process.