Grandparents make up an integral part of the family unit, especially for grandchildren. When a family is going through a divorce however, it can be especially tricky for grandparents to secure visitation rights that give them access to a continued relationship with their grandchildren. The laws for grandparents rights vary by state, but in Oklahoma certain requirements need to be met in order to grant rights to grandparents for visitation.
The law in the state of Oklahoma is primarily concerned with giving parents as much control and say as possible over the rearing of their children. Therefore, parents predominantly have the right to determine who has access to visitation, and who does not. Because of this, unfortunately, grandparents are not automatically granted the right to visit their grandchildren. However, if certain circumstances are met, then there are rights that grandparents are entitled to uphold for the wellbeing of the grandchildren or great grandchildren.
According to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, grandparent visitation rights are only granted if the following criteria is met:
The visitation is in the best interest of the child/children.
The child does not currently live in an intact nuclear family unit.
One or both parents are unfit for caring for the child.
Potential harm could be done to the child or children if visitation is not granted.
There are more criteria that will allow for grandparent visitation and custody, including death of a parent, or parents deserting children for at least a year. Details and explanations of these criteria can be found in the Oklahoma Statutes, title 43 section 109.4, and explained further here.
The granting of grandparents rights is ultimately determined by a judge, once it has been established that it would be in the best interest of the grandchildren. The judge will consider what criteria has been met, as well as look at other factors like the grandparents relationship with children and grandchildren, the child’s preference, health, motives, living conditions, and more.
If you’re a grandparent experiencing some of these circumstances of your child’s divorce, don’t look to secure your rights alone. At Henry + Dow, we know you want what’s best for your children and grandchildren. Our trusted and experienced divorce attorneys can help you ensure the best possible circumstance for you and your grandchildren. Give us a call today to find out more information on securing visitation rights for grandparents.