What are the chances of grandparents getting custody? 33 Answers as of July 02, 2013

My husband ( the man my daughter calls Dad) and myself are going to start the process for a legal step parent adoption. As I stated my child's biological father has not seen or been in contact for over 2 years. His mother, whom has also only seen in the picture on occasion is going to petition for grandparent rights. This is something I am against and will fight to the end on. Legally, what are her chances?

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Bruning & Associates, PC
Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
You need to hire a competent Family Law Lawyer who has experience with grandparents' rights issues. I have handled a very hotly litigated grandparents' rights case. I represented the grandparents and won the right for the grandparents to visit with their grandchild. However, the rights afforded grandparents are limited under Illinois law. It does not sound like the grandparents of your child would have a very strong case.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 1/9/2012
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
Grandparents do not have rights in the state of Florida.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 1/6/2012
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Grandparents have no rights in Texas. There is a case out of the the U.S. Supreme Court called Troxil. This case took place in 2005 and the crux of the matter is this: Husband and Wife divorced, Mom got custody of kids, Dad had visitation. He (dad) was killed while serving in military, his parents sued for access, visitation and "Grandparent Rights". The mother/ex-wife argued that grandparents have no rights, Grandma and Grandpa argued that when their son was alive, they has the grandkids every other weekend when he brought them to their house. The Supreme Court ruled that Grandparent's rights (if any) are derived from the intermediate child (Dad) and when he died, his rights died with him and since Grandparent Rights are derivative of the parent's rights, the Grandparent's rights died as well. Okay, assuming I have not bored you to tears already: 1) all Supreme Court rulings apply to state Courts, accordingly Troxil applies in Texas; 2) even before Troxil Texas had very limited rights for Grandparents; and 3) the only way Grandma can get rights is to intervene - she has not legal right to bring a case on her own . That last point is important because the Step-Parent adoption does involve her son, but she is not a necessary party. Therefore if he signs the voluntary relinquishment . . . . Again, Grandma is not a necessary party so you do not have to tell her the case is even filed. The trick is to get him served in such a way that Grandma does not have time to stick her nose into something where she does not belong. I suggest doing this in a strategic manner, file the petition for termination and adoption, get a waiver of the home study done, get the background checks complete, do everything except serve Dad. Then serve Dad with papers about 25 days out, he has 21 to respond. If he does not respond, default, terminate and adopt on the same day. If he does respond, set it for final hearing immediately and try to do all the above anyway.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 1/5/2012
Law Offices of Jayson A. Soobitsky, P.A. | Jayson A. Soobitsky
In Maryland the grandparents would have to prove; (1) that both you and the natural father of the child are unfit parents; and (2) that it is in the child's best interest for the grandparents to receive custody. If you are a fit parent then the court would have to find that "exceptional circumstances" exist for the grandparents to be awarded custody. An example of "exceptional circumstances" would be: that the children have resided full time with the grandparents for several years and are doing really well.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 1/5/2012
Dunnings Law Firm
Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
The grandparents have no standing to file for custody if the biological father is still alive.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    I commend your spouse for stepping up to adopt your biological son. However, in Michigan, before he can adopt, the biological father's parental rights have to be terminated. Two years is the minimum time to begin the process. You must petition the court to terminate his rights and allow your spouse to adopt. You must give the bio-father notice of the hearing by serving with a copy of the petition or using some alternate means of service. There are no grandparents rights in Michigan. All rights of the grandparents exist their son. Do not be surprised that when you petition, that the bio-dad will suddenly appear to contest the termination and subsequent adoption. Be prepared to show the absolute lack of contact by the bio-dad. Also, any lack of support or ever increasing support obligation will be helpful but not totally determinative. As I said, two years is the minimum time to begin the process, so don't be surprised that the judge will give the bio-dad the opportunity to re-establish his parental spirit (probably at the private insistence of the grandparents).
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    She might get some visitation, but only if she can show by very strong evidence that the child would be harmed if she was not granted any.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Little to none. She will have to prove you unfit. Otherwise she's got no rights in Washington.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Not good in Colorado. If you accomplish the step-parent adoption by involuntary termination of the father's rights, grandparents cannot obtain visitation rights. Regardless of whether or not you successfully pursue the step-parent adoption, in Colorado it is virtually impossible for grandparents to obtain custody over the objection of a parent. It is difficult for a grandparent to even obtain visitation over the object of a parent.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Attorney at Law | Aimee C. Robbins
    Maryland only grants custodial rights to grandparents in exceptional circumstances, such as extreme neglect by the parents. If you are a good parent your chances are excellent in preventing his mother from seeking custodial rights, or visitation rights if you do not approve.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    For a grandparent to be successful in obtaining visitation rights the court will look at whether a strong bond has been created through frequent visitation in the past that would be harmful to the child if discontinued. A grandparent that has not been a major presence in the child's life will have difficulty obtaining a visitation order over the objections of the custodial parent.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Visitation maybe but not custody unless she can prove you are unfit as a mother and it is in the best interest of the child to remove the child.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    It is unclear from your question whether the grandparent is seeking visitation or custody of the child. The rules are quite different for visitation versus custody. You should consult a family law attorney familiar with step parent and grand parent proceedings.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The paternal grandmothers ability to stop the step parent adoption are slim to none. However, that is not to say she won't try to legally resist the step parent adoption. Please have you and your husband meet with an experienced family law attorney to explore your legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Step parent adoptions are quite common, and can occur with or without permission of the biological parent. The court will need to decide whether it is in the best interest of the child, but absent objections by bio-dad I would say your chances at success are excellent. The grand parents may still seek time with the child, and the court may decide that is acceptable.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    You might want to look over the "third party" custody and visitation statutes.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    In Washington state, the grandparent's chances of successfully obtaining custody are almost non-existent. However, you will be required to give the biological father notice of the adoption petition. If the grandmother persuades him to surface and object, the adoption is unlikely to be approved over his objection. Be sensitive to the emotional impact of all this on your daughter.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Office of Angela M. Riccio | Angela M. Riccio
    Generally speaking biological parents are presumed to be fit and proper parents of their children. However, circumstances of a particular case may present a legal challenge to that. I suggest you contact an attorney prior to moving forward with any legal proceedings regarding your daughter to determine the legal issues which may be involved in proceeding as you suggested.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/4/2012
    Law Office of Lynda H. LeBlanc | Lynda Leblanc
    Generally, grandparents have to show that they have played an active role in the child's life to be awarded grandparent's rights. The basis for whether or not grandparents are awarded visitation rights is the best interest of the child. You should get your petition for step-parent adoption on file as soon as possible. Make sure you follow the statutes as to notice precisely as the Court will not move forward without proper notice and service. I would highly advise that you hire an attorney if grandma is going to make an issue. These types of matters are very heated and half of the battle is keeping your cool in the courtroom, the other half is knowing the laws.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Smith, Gildea & Schmidt | Michael Gene DeHaven
    Grandparents are granted rights by Maryland's Family Law Article, Section 9-102, which declares that: An equity court may: (1) consider a petition for reasonable visitation of a grandchild by a grandparent; and (2) if the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child, grant visitation rights to the grandparent. However, according to Maryland case law, there is a presumption that fit parents make decisions that are in the best interests of their children. Therefore a third party has to show either parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances before a third party will be awarded visitation or custody. If the third party demonstrates either parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances, then the court will consider what schedule would be in the minor child's best interest. The "chances" of success will depend on the evidence presented to the court. You should consult with an attorney who has experience in such matters in the county where your child resides.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Grandparents may have rights to custody and visitation. In California, usually there has to be a pre-existing relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent and the grandparent cannot refuse any reasonable offer made by a parent. If a parent opposes visitation, the court will look to see if there is a relationship. If there is, then the court will look to determine if it is prejudicial to child to stop the visits. If the answer is yes, the court will grant the visits.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
    Legally it is very difficult to establish grandparent visitation. The statute sets forth very specific criteria. If your child has not had an established relationship with the grandparent it will be very difficult for the grandparent to establish those rights. The court would most likely appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (someone appointed by the court to investigate whether the grandparent should have visitation) at the grandparent's expense.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    A party who files a valid petition commencing third-party child custody proceedings under Chapter 257C is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to prove an interested-third-party status.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Vargas Law Office LLC | Ronnie Ismael Vargas
    Before your spouse can adopt your daughter, you need to terminate the biological father's parental rights. Once his rights are terminateed, then the grandparents would have no legal rights.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Law Office of William C. Wood, LLC | William C. Wood
    Grandparents have inferior rights compared to biological parents regarding custody and visitation. In order for her to prevail in a custody dispute with you, she would first have to show that either you are an unfit parent or that some exceptional circumstance exists. An example would be that the child has either resided with the grandparent in the past or that there is a particularly close relationship between the two. If she is able to do either of those, then the court would determine custody based on what is in the child's best interest. As a practical matter, if the child has always resided with you and is doing well, it is highly unlikely that a court would change anything. I would recommend consulting with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your case in detail.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    Is the grandmother petitioning the court for custody or visitation, there is a big difference between the two. If the grandmother requests custody, pursuant to La C.C. article 133, she must prove that an award of custody to you, the mother, would result in substantial harm to the child. It will not be easy for her to prove such. If the grandmother wants visitation,then under La C.C. article 136 (b), "in extraordinary circumstances" a relative may be granted visitation if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child. In determining such, the court will consider the length and quality of the relationship between the child and relative and other factors. Based on your question detail, the grandmother does not have any type of relationship with the childso, in all likelihood, she would be awarded visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Law Office of Joan M. Canavan | Joan Canavan
    You are the biological mother of your daughter. Unless you are an unfit parent and the grandmother can prove so, she will not get custody of your daughter. Even if she were to prove that you are an unfit mother, she would also have to prove that it is in the best interest of your daughter to be in her custody. Considering the circumstances, I don't see this happening.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    There is no such thing in Georgia as grandparents rights in an adoption. You need and presumably have a lawyer for your adoption case.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/3/2012
    Phillip A. Arieff Attorney at Law | Phillip A. Arieff
    1) Grandparent rights(visiting schedule) is separate from grandparents terminating Mom's parental rights and getting guardianship, which is separate from terminating bio-Dad's rights in favor of step-Dad. 2)Grandparents can get courts to consider issue of regular visit schedule if in best interests of child and courts must also consider parent objections. 3) Your situation has bio-Dad who still has parental rights, his due process rights would require him to be given notice of any attempt for step-dad to terminate Dad's rights and adopt. Termination of parental rights could happen if Dad hasn't acted as parentaccording to statutory factors in ch. 48 of statutes. 4)As to grandparents getting guardianship, they would have to meet burden and show why best interests of child would be served by it, in spite of strong preference for active biological parents.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 1/3/2012
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