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Do grandparents in Alabama have visitation rights?

A grandparent can occupy a very special place in a child’s life. They might act as a caregiver, a teacher, and a support system. In some cases, a child’s parents may not be able to provide a safe and happy environment for their child. When that happens, a grandparent can find themselves in a complex position. They hate to see their child struggle, but they worry about the impact the situation will have on their grandchild.

Is there anything a grandparent in Alabama can do?

Grandparents in Alabama can petition for visitation time

A grandparent can petition the court for reasonable visitation time in any of the following situations:

  • Their grandchild’s parents have filed for divorce or are already divorced
  • They are the maternal grandparent to a child whose parents are unmarried
  • They are the paternal grandparent to a child whose parents are unmarried, and the father has established paternity
  • An action to terminate parental rights has been filed or a court has terminated parental rights

Courts assume that if a parent has denied a grandparent time with their grandchild, that decision is in the child’s best interests. To establish visitation, a grandparent must overcome this assumption in their arguments to the court.

How grandparents can show the importance of their presence in a child’s life

To obtain visitation rights, a grandparent must show they have a “significant and viable” relationship with their grandchild. For example:

  • The child lived with them for at least 6 months without a parent present
  • They regularly care for the child for at least six consecutive months
  • They have frequent or regular contact with the child and have fostered a meaningful relationship

Courts in Alabama will also consider any facts that indicate losing contact with their grandparent will result in harm to the child.

Establishing visitation rights for a grandparent can be a complicated process. Contacting an Alabama child custody attorney can help grandparents understand their options under their specific circumstances.

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