While parents typically are the sole caretakers of their children, grandparents also have rights in specific situations. However, because of the deference given to parents to raise their children as they wish, grandparents face an uphill battle to gain time with their grandchildren if the parents object.
A Guilford grandparents’ rights lawyer understands and respects the importance of your relationship with your grandchildren and can work tirelessly to preserve it. Our caring family attorneys are available to discuss your legal options and what steps may be beneficial for you to take next.
In the landmark case of Troxel v. Granville, the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated a parent’s right to raise their children free from other’s interference, including that by grandparents. However, understanding that a child benefits from time with their grandparent, Connecticut has enacted legislation enabling grandparents to petition for court-ordered contact with a grandchild over a parent’s objection.
Under Connecticut General Statutes §46b-59, a family judge may grant visitation to grandparents if they can prove to do is in the child’s best interests, they have had a parent-like relationship with the grandchild, and to withhold visitation would cause significant harm to the child’s wellbeing.
To prove a parent-like relationship, the grandparents must demonstrate that they have continuously met the child’s physical, emotional, moral, and educational needs. A practiced attorney in Guilford understands the legal significance of the fundamental right to parent and how it affects a court’s consideration of a grandparent’s visitation petition.
Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) can legally remove children from their parent’s care due to abuse or neglect. If DCF takes this action, grandparents may assume custody through informal arrangements with the parents or apply to foster the child.
State law also authorizes the grandparent to formally intervene in the court action and request custody or temporary guardianship of their grandchildren. Intervention proceedings in Connecticut are legally complex, and grandparents are well-advised to protect their rights by seeking a skilled attorney before filing a motion to intervene.
A grandparent can request custody if the biological parents are unfit to care for their children, are deceased, or have abandoned the child. A judge must assess whether custody to the grandparents would be in the child’s best interests in any of these situations.
When determining best interests, a court may consider the strength of the grandparent-grandchild relationship, the grandparent’s stability, and whether they can financially support their grandchild. A judge may also appoint an attorney, known as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), to represent the child and relay their custodial preference to the court. Local lawyers can further explain the GAL’s role in a custody action.
If your rights as a grandparent are threatened, it is essential to understand your legal options. If you do not act quickly, a judge may determine that you do not have a connection with your grandchildren sufficient to warrant court intervention.
A Guilford grandparents’ rights lawyer experienced in the state’s grandparent custody and visitation laws can determine the best way to maintain contact with your grandchildren. Additionally, if your grandchild is in harm’s way, a member of our legal team will help you seek custody, either through DCF or a separate civil action. Get in touch with our office today to get started.