A relationship with a grandparent can be an important source of emotional support for children. Visits to their grandparents’ home are cherished memories. Unfortunately, families are complex, and friction between parents and grandparents can lead to attempts to separate grandparents and their grandchildren. In Alaska, the rights of grandparents are part of the legal code.
Grandparents and child custody
Alaska law favors biological parents when it comes to child custody. However, there are situations where grandparents are best suited to raise their grandchildren. A lawyer specializing in grandparents’ rights may be able to help establish the need for a new custody arrangement. In the court, the lawyer must prove that the child’s parents are unfit. Alternatively, a judge might rule that living with a set of grandparents is best for a child’s welfare after the death or extended absence of a parent.
Grandparents and visitation rights
The legal code is clearer about grandparents’ rights of visitation. It is not unusual that after a divorce the grandparents from the non-custodial parent’s side may feel shut out. Grandparents in Alaska have the legal ability to seek visitation rights and see their grandchildren.
However, establishing visitation rights is not a guarantee. If a grandparent has not been involved in a child’s life, it will be difficult to argue for establishing a visitation schedule. To establish visitation rights, the court looks at several factors:
- Visitation must be in the child’s best interest.
- There must be an existing pattern of visits.
- A lack of visitation would do social or emotional harm to the child.
When family events threaten to disrupt the bond between you and your grandchildren, there are legal actions you can take. The Alaskan court system can help you maintain a meaningful relationship.