The Center for Family and Demographic Research in Bowling Green State University found that in Ohio 8% of children under 18 are living with a grandparent. 2.8% of children under 18 have a grandparent responsible for them.
Regardless of where children reside, grandparents are often rooting for their grandchildren at sporting events, going to birthday parties, spending holidays, and countless hours of babysitting. Regardless of a grandparent’s involvement with his or her grandchild, the grandparent does not have solid rights to the child in Ohio.
Ohio recognizes grandparent rights by statute in three occurrences: (1) when a parent of a child dies; (2) when the child is born to unmarried parents; (3) when married parents divorce or legally separate.
There are slightly different factors required to establish grandparents’ rights with these different scenarios.
When a parent of a child dies or child is born to unmarried parents, the grandparents are awarded visitation rights if after considering certain factors, the Court determines that visitation is in the child’s best interests.
When married parents divorce or legally separate, the Court may grant visitation if it determines the grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the child AND it is in the child’s best interest.
The factors that are considered in determining the best interests of the minor child are as follows:
- The wishes and concerns of the child’s parents;
- The child’s prior interaction and interrelationships with parents and grandparents;
- The location of the grandparent’s residence and its distance from the child’s residence;
- The child’s and parents’ available time;
- The child’s age;
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
- The child’s wishes, if the court has interviewed the child in chambers;
- The child’s health and safety;
- The amount of time that a child has available to spend with siblings;
- The mental and physical health of all parties;
- Whether the person seeking companionship or visitation has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving an act that resulted in a child being abused or neglected.
If a child is adopted, the grandparents’ rights will be terminated along with their child’s rights after the adoption. The grandparents’ rights associated with the remaining parent (not terminating his or her rights) will still survive adoption. An adoption will not impact the grandparents’ rights if the grandparents’ child has died.
With more and more grandparents taking active roles in their grandchildren’s lives, it is essential to know your rights to preserve this precious relationship.