Family comes in many forms. Many people consider their “immediate family” to include more than just the traditional “nuclear” structure and may involve cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. In many families, grandparents are just as involved in the upbringing of grandchildren as are the children’s direct parents. What happens if there is a conflict between a child’s parents and grandparents? Do grandparents have any custodial or visitation rights of their own, or do the wishes of the parents always control? In this article, we discuss the legal rights of grandparents under Nevada law.
Parents Can Deny Grandparents Visitation
Grandparents do not, by default, have the absolute right to visit their grandchildren. The law presumes that parents know what is best for their children, including with whom the children will interact. If a parent or parents decide that any particular grandparent should not be allowed to visit their children, then the parents can prevent any such visitation.
Grandparents Can Petition for Visitation
While grandparents are not guaranteed the right to visit their grandchildren, they do have the right to request visitation. Nevada Law explicitly provides that grandparents can obtain a “reasonable right” to visit a child under the following circumstances:
- A parent of the child is deceased;
- A parent of the child is divorced or separated from the parent with legal custody;
- Has never been legally married to the other parent of the child, but cohabited with the other parent and is deceased or separated from the parent; or
- A parent of the child has relinquished their parental rights or have had their parental rights legally terminated.
To obtain visitation rights, when the child’s parent(s) are denying visitation, the grandparent must:
- File a petition with the family courts;
- Demonstrate that a parent of the child “has denied or unreasonably restricted visits with the child”; and
- Overcome the presumption that the child’s parents know best and it is in the child’s best interests to grant the grandparent’s right to visit.
The burden to prove that it’s in the child’s best interest for grandparent visitation is on the petitioner(s). Nevada Law presumes that when a parent denies visitation to a grandparent, that denial is in the child’s best interest. A grandparent can overcome that presumption by providing clear and convincing evidence that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest. Clear and convincing evidence is a concept that varies from judge to judge. Any grandparent seeking to get court ordered visitation with their grandchildren should have the legal counsel and representation of an experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney.
Weighing the Child’s Best Interest
Under Nevada Law NRS 125C.0035 covers aspects of what is in the best interest of the child. Again, this is a subjective general set of guidelines and can be interpreted differently depending on the judge in the case. When a grandparent petitions for visitation over the objection of the child’s parents or legal custodian, the grandparent must demonstrate that visitation is in the child’s best interest. The court will look at a variety of factors to weigh the child’s best interest, including the following:
- Love, affection, and ties between the child and the grandparent;
- The mental, physical, emotional, and moral fitness of the grandparent;
- The willingness and ability of the grandparent to encourage and foster a relationship between the child and the child’s parents and other relatives;
- The reasonable preference and age of the grandchild;
- Additional factors, including whatever else the court (judge) deems relevant.
Help With Grandparents Rights in Las Vegas
If you have a child custody dispute with an ex-spouse, co-parent, or concerning the rights of grandparents, reach out to a Las Vegas child custody attorney to discuss your options and your rights. Our State Bar of Nevada Board Certified divorce attorneys have the dedication and experience to assist you with any issue. Both Jennifer V. Abrams and Vincent Mayo offer courtesy phone consultations at no charge. Call 702-222-4021 to speak directly with one of them about your important issues.
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