Ohio/Kentucky Grandparents and Visitationby Erin Wilkins (Law Office of M. Erin Wilkins, LLC)
Grandparents want to spend their time enjoying their grandchildren, arranging outings and spending time together. In many situations, grandparents are able to set up dates to have their grandchildren come visit with little hassle. However, where there is ill-will or bad feelings between parents who are divorced, those visits can become more difficult to arrange.
In Ohio, the courts may grant grandparents visitation rights with minor grandchild during or after divorce or custody proceedings. The court will do so if the grandparents have an interest in the child’s welfare and the visits are in the best interests of the child. The court will also look to those interests when determining visitation for grandparents of a child whose parent is deceased or is the offspring of an unmarried mother. Simply because a parent is not involved in the child’s life is no reason for the grandparent to give up the opportunity to spend precious time with their grandchild.
If a court grants grandparents visitation rights and the parents fail to comply with the court ordered visitation, the grandparents may file an action in contempt for failure to comply with the court order. The courts take contempt motions very seriously and may find the parent guilty of contempt and impose a fine or, depending on the situation, jail time. The court will also require the guilty party to pay all court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
In practice, Kentucky courts give slightly weaker emphasis to the law which appears to grant visitation rights to grandparents. Grandparents who are primary care providers for their grandchildren are given equal consideration under the law by the courts when the court determines custody issues. Kentucky statute KRS 405.021 allows for courts to grant reasonable visitation rights to either the paternal or maternal grandparents of a child. The court is also enabled to issue any orders that may be necessary to enforce the decree if it is in the child’s best interest.
The statute also states that even if parental rights to the minor child have been terminated, the grandparents’ visitation rights are should not be adversely affected, unless the court determines that doing so is in the child’s best interest. This means that a grandparent may continue visitation with their grandchild even if their son or daughter has lost their rights to the minor child. Those grandparents who assume the financial obligation of the minor child may be granted non-custodial parental visitation rights if the parent of the minor child is deceased, unless doing so is not in the minor child’s best interest.