For many children, the grandparents are an integral part of their lives. When parents separate or divorce, both parents’ relationship with their in-laws can become strained. Too often, this strain effects the child’s relationship with their grandparents. Grandparents who want to spend time with their grandchildren may have legal recourse. Many states recognize grandparents’ rights, but it’s important to understand the specific criteria for when and how visitation can take place in your state.
Grandparent Visitation Laws Overview
Grandparents don’t have any constitutionally recognized rights to visitation with their grandchildren. Instead, a child’s biological or adoptive parents hold those rights and grandparents can only obtain visitation in limited circumstances.
In the U.S. Supreme Court case Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court discussed parent’s fundamental rights to raise and rear their own children. However, the Troxel case refused to strike down a Washington state law granting substantial grandparent visitation. What Troxel left us with is varying degrees of grandparent visitation throughout the 50 states. Although many people have challenged grandparent visitation laws in their state, most of the time these laws are upheld.
Grandparent Rights in Oklahoma
Although grandparents have visitation rights in Oklahoma, those privileges are secondary to and can’t conflict with a parent’s custodial rights. In any custody case, a judge’s main focus is to preserve the parent-child relationship.
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of Oklahoma Grandparent Visitation Statute as unconstitutional based on Troxel. The current amended statute has withstood legal challenges and allows grandparent visitation when 3 factors are present, specifically:
- Grandparent visitation serves the child’s best interest
- The grandchild’s parent(s) are unfit or the grandchild would be harmed if grandparent visitation didn’t occur
- The grandchild’s core family unit has been dissolved by circumstances
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights of your grandchildren, have any questions, or you are seeking legal advice or representation then please contact Robert R. Robles at 405-232-7980.