In order to request visitation with a grandchild, grandparents in Alaska either join a custody suit or file a separate suit. The first way is much easier. The custody case does not have to be pending; grandparents can request to join a custody case that has already been decided. Certain forms must be filed asking to join the suit; additional forms are required to ask for visitation. The forms can be filed sequentially or all at one time. Forms are available at this online self-help center maintained by the government of Alaska.
When rendering a judgment, the court will consider whether visiting with the grandparent is in the best interest of the child and whether the grandparent has established ongoing contact with the child or has tried to establish ongoing contact with the child. When determining whether to grant visitation and the terms of any visitation granted, the court is directed to consider whether there is a history of child abuse or domestic violence attributable to the grandparent's son or daughter, the parent of the grandchild.
If a grandparent wishes to request visitation with a child and there has been no custody case, the grandparent will need the advice of an attorney.
Adoption terminates visitation rights unless the adoption decree specifies visitation rights for the child's natural relatives.
The grandparent visitation statutes of most states were jeopardized by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Troxel v. Granville. The decision gave parents an edge in grandparent visitation disputes and cast doubt on the constitutionality of most state statutes. The validity of Alaska's statute was in doubt until the 2004 case of Evans v. McTaggart. In that case, the court upheld the constitutionality of the law but said that parental decisions about visitation must be given "special weight," which grandparents can overcome only by "clear and convincing evidence."
See the Alaska statutes, 25.20.065.
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