During and after a divorce, it may become difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren, particularly if the parents become estranged and their child is the non-custodial parent. Sadly, most grandparents in Connecticut do not have any legal protections to ensure that they can develop or maintain a relationship with a grandchild. To learn about the difficulty in getting visitation, read this brief on Grandparent Visitation when opposed by a parent.
While most grandparents do not have a right to file a petition in family court for contact, they can become a party in a court action brought by their child. Grandparents may enter an ongoing case. We will work with them in a divorce to help them establish their own right to visitation.
Grandparents who meet certain criteria do have the ability to petition for visitation rights:
1. If they have a parent-like relationship with the child, AND
2. If denying them visitation would be tantamount to neglect of the child.
If you are a grandparent who has filled a parental role for a lengthy period of time in your grandchild’s life, you may have legal rights. You may even have the right to file for custody, where appropriate. If you do not fit this criteria and do not have the ability to petition the court to exercise your rights, we may still be able to help you regain a relationship with your grandchildren. Often lawyer-facilitated negotiations or a letter from a lawyer will yield a positive result.
Grandparents’ Rights When DCF Is Involved
In Connecticut, grandparents are offered little say regarding visitation during divorce or custody proceedings. However, if your grandchild is being abused or neglected by a parent, or if the parents are under investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for child abuse or neglect, you do have legal options. In fact, you may even petition to become guardians or caretakers of your grandchildren.
We strongly believe that caring grandparents are often the best guardians for children who are victimized by child abuse or neglect. Our goal is to help you in petitioning for caretaker status, and to ensure the grandchildren are kept with family in a safe and loving environment during this emotional time.
If a parent is under investigation for abuse or neglect, DCF may notify grandparents of the decision to remove their grandchildren from the home. Grandparents can often gain temporary custody of their grandchildren during the investigation and petition to maintain that custody if the circumstances require.
We also represent grandparents and other relatives during the DCF process. We help exercise their right to gain temporary or permanent custody of their grandchildren, nieces or nephews when the parents are unable.