Alabama lawmakers have approved a new bill which gives grandparents the right to petition for visitation rights with their grandchild. Prior to this legislation, grandparents were unable to petition for visitation with their grandchildren if the parent(s) refused to allow visitation. The new law states that a grandparent may file for reasonable visitation with their grandchild if any of the following circumstances exist: (1) an action for a divorce or legal separation has been filed or the marital relationship between the parents of the child has been severed by death or divorce, (2) the child was born out of wedlock and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent of the child, (3) the child was born out of wedlock, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent of the child, and paternity has been legally established, or (4) an action to terminate the parental rights of a parent or parents has been filed or the parental rights of a parent has been terminated by court order.
Since a parent has the right to deny or limit visitation with grandparents, the grandparent seeking visitation must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the grandparent has established a significant and viable relationship with the child and visitation with the grandparent is in the child’s best interest. In order to establish a significant and viable relationship with the child for purposes of visitation, the grandparent must meet certain criteria under the new law. The attorneys at Hodges Trial Lawyers will be happy to discuss your legal options regarding grandparent’s rights and visitation.