While parents have the primary right to determine how to raise their children, Oklahoma statutes provide certain rights for grandparents as well. One of the most debated family law issues is whether or not grandparents should have visitation rights. This article discusses grandparents visitation rights in Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, when the relationship between a mother and father sours, the grandparents find themselves at the mercy of the parents in regards to seeing their grandchildren. The good news is that Oklahoma may grant grandparents visitation rights. But, similar to child custody and visitation rights between parents, grandparent visitation rights are often decided in court according to what is in the best interest of the child.
The Oklahoma constitution recognizes the rights of parents to raise their children and, typically, will not interfere with this right, so long as the parents are fit to raise their own children. However, when a parent is deemed unfit and/or absent, such as in the case of premature death, drug abuse, or incarceration, the state recognizes the right of the child to have a relationship with the grandparents and encourages this relationship through grandparents visitation rights.
Visitation rights for grandparents in Oklahoma are predicated on:
- What is in the best interest of the child, for which the court will evaluate at least 14 predetermined factors, including:
- the grandparents’ preexisting relationship with the child;
- the benefit in maintaining the preexisting relationship;
- the stability of the child’s family unit and environment;
- the age and preferences of the child; and
- the parent’s reasons for denying visitation.
- Parental unfitness, clear and convincing evidence from the grandparents that the parents are not acting in the best interest of the child, or evidence that the child would suffer harm if not allowed visitation with the grandparents.
- A disruption in the child’s nuclear family–meaning that the family structure in which the child resides is no longer intact– due to divorce, separation or because the parents were never married.
All three of these requirements must be met before a court order for grandparent visitation will be ordered, and filing a case for visitation without meeting any one of these requirements is typically discouraged. Consult an experienced divorce lawyer to understand further your rights to receive visitation with your grandchildren.
Parents may agree to grant visitation rights to a grandparent. In the absence of such an agreement, it will be assumed that the parents are fit and acting in the best interest of their children by denying visitation rights to the grandparent. However, it is often the case that one parent wants the grandparent to receive visitation rights and the other does not. In these cases, the court will make a determination based on what it finds is in the best interest of the child.
No Cost Consultation: Oklahoma City Divorce Lawyer
Grandparents can receive visitation rights in Oklahoma, if certain conditions are met. However, no two cases are the same. To assess the possibility of receiving visitation rights with your grandchildren, you should consult with an experienced Oklahoma City divorce lawyer.
For a free consultation with a reliable Oklahoma City divorce attorney, call Divorce Law Office of Oklahoma City at (405) 880-8222 today. If you prefer e-mail, send us your question using the “Ask the Lawyer” form at the right side of this page.