What are My Rights as a Grandparent in Kentucky?
To most grandparents, time spent with grandchildren is valuable, even precious. The window of opportunity to cherish memories with a grandchild is sometimes smaller than anyone could ever imagine. While grandparents in all 50 states have certain visitation rights, the laws addressing those rights are not easily understood or straightforward and vary from state to state.
When your rights as grandparents are threatened, it’s important to understand your options. At the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates, we serve Shepherdsville and neighboring areas in Kentucky with real, compassionate guidance when visitation or custody of grandchildren is at stake. Caring for your grandchildren is something that matters to you, so don’t let that window of opportunity close.
Understanding the Rights of Grandparents
According to Kentucky’s grandparent visitation statute, reasonable rights can be granted to grandparents, as long as it’s in “the best interest of the child.” But what does that actually mean in practice? Although this statute has not been revised since 1996, it has been interpreted and administered differently through the years, impacted by precedents set by the outcomes of local and national cases. As a result, Kentucky is thought to be a generally permissive state when it comes to grandparents’ rights. Kentucky law interprets ‘the best interest of the child’ differently depending on each case, but has tended to rule in favor of grandparents.
Even though Kentucky law seems to be evolving in favor of grandparents’ rights, the burden of proof still lies with the grandparents to demonstrate the child’s ‘best interest.’ Factors that the court may consider when determining best interest include:
- your relationship with the child, and the amount of time you spend together
- potential benefits and detriments of the proposed visits
- the impact of court-ordered visitation on the parents’ relationship with their child
- the physical and emotional health of everyone involved
- the child’s need for stability
- the child’s wishes and preferences
Grandparents’ rights depend on these, and other, factors. Parental rights and their effect on grandparents’ rights are also important to note. In Kentucky, if the grandparent’s child loses their parental rights, the grandparent’s own visitation rights will not necessarily terminate. For instance, if your grandchild is adopted after you have already been awarded time with the child, the adoption will not automatically eliminate your visitation rights.
Can Grandparents Seek Custody in Kentucky?
Much like a visitation case, factors considered in a custody case in Kentucky take the best interests of the child into consideration. Other variables the court may consider in their decision include:
- the parents’ wishes
- the child’s wishes
- the child’s relationship with the parent(s), the sibling(s), and other actively involved family members
- the child’s adjustment to their current environment(s)
- the mental and physical health of everyone involved
- any history of domestic violence
- the natural parents’ reasons for placing the child in a “de facto” parent’s care
If the child is already living with you, and you are the child’s primary caregiver and financial supporter, you can request custody unless the child’s parent(s) demonstrate a justified reason for temporarily placing the child in your care. Such reasons could include domestic violence, seeking employment, or attending school.
Why Hiring an Attorney is a Good Idea
Legal disputes involving grandchildren can be emotional and complex. Laws vary by state, and how the laws are interpreted is constantly evolving. In Kentucky, grandparents are usually able to secure their rights and achieve favorable results, but not always. An experienced family law attorney is familiar with the nuances of family laws that protect your rights.
Our team’s founding lawyer, John Schmidt, has dedicated his career to guiding others in need. As a dedicated family law attorney, he understands the need to work diligently and compassionately to help you fight for your rights and the well-being of your family. At the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates, we will seek for what is right and just for grandparents. We proudly serve Shepherdsville, Kentucky, as well as Louisville, Elizabethtown, Jeffersontown, and Mount Washington. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.