In Ohio, grandparents may be granted visitation in three circumstances: when the child's parents are unmarried; when a parent is deceased; or when the parents have divorced or separated. The grandparents must have an interest in the child's welfare, and visitation must be determined to be in the best interests of the child.
An order for visitation can be a part of several court proceedings, including divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, or child support proceeding. The suit for visitation need not be filed before the finding in the case but can instead be filed at any time.
The court may grant "reasonable companionship or visitation rights" to grandparents or to "any person related to the child by consanguinity or affinity." with the same conditions applying.
The court should consider factors including but not limited to the following:
- The wishes and concerns of the parents as expressed to the court
- The child's interactions with parents and members of the extended family
- The geographical location of the grandparent's residence and the distance from the child’s residence
- The child’s and parents’ available time, including schedules for employment, school, holidays and vacations
- The child's age
- The child's adjustment at home and school and in the community
- Any wishes of the child, as expressed in chambers
- The child's health and safety
- The availability of time for the child to be with his or her siblings
- The mental and physical health of all parties
- The willingness of the grandparent to reschedule missed visitation
- Any conviction of the grandparent or guilty plea by the grandparent involving a crime of child abuse or child neglect
- Any other factor in the best interest of the child.
In the case of unmarried parents, grandparents may seek visitation, although paternity must be acknowledged and legalized before paternal grandparents may seek visitation. The law does not address whether grandparents may be given visitation rights with children who have been removed from a home due to abuse or neglect. Visitation rights may survive after adoption if the adopting party is a stepparent.
The Ohio law itself is difficult to read and understand because the provisions for grandparent visitation are included in the lengthy statutes about parenting time. This informational brief is easier to understand. To read the actual laws, see Ohio Revised Code, Section 3109.051 concerning visitation rights; Section 3109.11 concerning children of deceased parents; and Section 3109.12 concerning unmarried parents.
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