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February 6, 2019

Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights in Indiana?

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Posted by: GDS Law Group, LLP

Grandparents are an important part of their grandchildren’s lives. When family discord occurs, a grandparent may fear that they won’t get to see their grandchild as often or worry that their relationship won’t be as strong. A grandparent may also believe they are better fit to care for their grandchild than the child’s parents.

If grandparents find themselves in any of these situations, they may be wondering whether they have visitation and custody rights in Indiana. For answers to questions about grandparents’ rights in Indiana, reach out to our highly skilled Anderson, Indiana child custody lawyers at GDS Law Group today. We can evaluate your situation and inform you of your legal options. Contact us today at (765) 313-7092 to schedule a free consultation of your case.

Third-Party Custody

In some cases, a third party – such as a grandparent – may gain custody of a child if they are considered a “de facto custodian.” A de facto custodian is someone who provides significant ongoing care to a child for a certain period of time.

Indiana courts will look at the evidence and identify the best interests of a child before granting custody. In addition, they will consider the wishes of the child’s parents as well as the physical and mental health of all parties involved.

While the courts prefer for parents to come to the decision of who should have custody of their child, they’ll do it for them if this is not possible. If a grandparent has become the de facto custodian because the child’s parents were unable to care for them on their own, it’s more likely that the court will grant them full custody.

The Rights of Grandparents in Indiana

Under Indiana law, grandparents may pursue visitation with their grandchildren. However, they can only do so under the following circumstances:

  • Their grandchild’s parent is deceased
  • Their grandchild’s parents have been divorced
  • Their grandchild was born out of wedlock

It’s important to note that if their grandchild was born out of wedlock and they are the paternal grandparents, they cannot obtain visitation rights unless paternity has been formally established.

While Indiana does protect the rights of grandparents who are active in the lives of their children, visitation rights to grandparents are usually limited. This is because the state respects the rights of children’s parents to make decisions they believe are in the best interests of their sons and daughters. These decisions may include restricting or eliminating visitation time with their children and grandparents.

How the Process of Seeking Visitation Works

Grandparents who are interested in obtaining a visitation order are required to file a petition. The petition should clearly outline their relationship with their grandchild and why they believe a court order is necessary.

Once the petition has been turned in, a hearing will be held. During this hearing, the grandparent will need to explain how they are involved in their grandchild’s life, and what has happened that prevented them from seeing their grandchild and maintaining a healthy bond with them.

A court will consider the grandchild’s best interests when determining whether a grandparent deserves a visitation order. The court may interview the grandchild to find out how they perceive the situation and understand how the grandparent has attempted to pursue a meaningful relationship with the child.

Contact an Indiana Family Lawyer for Help

If you are a grandparent who is concerned about not being able to spend quality time with your grandchild or would like custody of them, it’s in your best interest to contact the experienced Anderson family law attorneys at GDS Law Group. We are well-versed in grandparents’ rights in Indiana and can guide you through the process of pursuing visitation if you are eligible to do so. Call us at (765) 313-7092, or reach out through the online form to schedule a free case consultation.

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