The love between a grandparent and a grandchild can be all-encompassing. Grandparents are often there to help their own children, to love and support their grandchildren and sometimes grandparents can even find themselves being the sole care provider for their grandchildren.
However, when the relationship between a parent and grandparent suffers it can often affect grandchildren and even lead a grandparent to seek Court intervention for custody and/or visitation.
While most parents do not want to sue their own children, maintaining the bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be important enough for a grandparent to seek the assistance of the Court.
In this article, we explain the rights a grandparent has under Nevada law to seek grandparent visitation and/or grandparent custody.
The answer to this question is sometimes…and it is a very narrow right.
In Nevada, grandparents may have the right to reasonable visitation with their grandchildren if:
The answer here is “yes.” Parents can keep grandparents from visiting or otherwise communicating with their grandchildren.
If a grandparent rights action is filed, the Court will be presumed that the parent is keeping the grandchild away from you because it is in the child’s best interests. You, as a grandparent, will have to show the Court that this is not accurate or true and that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with you.
You must convince the Court, by clear and convincing evidence, that it is in the child’s best interest to have visitation and/or contact with the grandparents.
There is a family court judge in Las Vegas that often cautions grandparents about involving the Court and we feel it is important to offer the same advice here: CONSIDER THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.
A grandparent who seeks Court involvement is involved in a lawsuit against the grandchild’s parents. This can cause further strain in a relationship and can often divide families.
It is important to remember that the Court is not there to provide family therapy but instead to apply the law to a given set of facts. In 20 years of law practice, I have yet to see a grandparent rights case repair family bonds.
So….we caution you that before you seek a lawyer and involve the Court consider whether you really want to file a lawsuit against your grandchild’s parents.
First and foremost, you should speak with an attorney.
While our office is all for people representing themselves in family court, a grandparents rights action can be complicated, time-consuming and can often devastate families. We strongly encourage that you consult with a lawyer before filing a lawsuit for grandparent rights.
The lawsuit for grandparent rights begins like any other…you will need to file a petition with the Court asking to establish grandparent rights.
In your petition, you will need to establish why you are seeking to enforce your rights…is it that a parent is deceased? Has a parent relinquished their rights? Has a parent separated from another parent?
Remember we said there was a narrow right of grandparent visitation?
If both parents are alive and together, with parental rights intact, chances are your petition for grandparent visitation will be denied.
However . . . there may be one more option for you to pursue:
If the child has resided with the grandparents and the grandparent can establish that there is a meaningful relationship with their grandchild AND the parents have denied or unreasonably restricted visitation, a grandparent can still file a petition to enforce their rights.
Once the petition is filed, the parent(s) need to be served with the petition and a summons.
You will have to wait 20 days from the time the parent(s) is served with the petition for the parent to respond to the petition.
Once the parent(s) have filed a written response with the Court, the judge will decide whether or not to grant the petition for grandparent rights. This can be done by motion but most likely will end up in a trial to decide whether or not grandparent rights should be granted.
Child safety and security is always a paramount consideration by our family court.
If you are dealing with an unfit parent or a parent who is placing your grandchild in a dangerous or unsafe situation you should be prepared to use these facts to your advantage.
For example, if the biological parents have been arrested for a crime, are using drugs or have out of control mental health problems, you should immediately step forward to take custody of your grandchildren.
Remember that one of the factors the Court will consider is whether or not the parent has unreasonably denied contact or restricted visitation.
If you are constantly bad-mouthing the parent or if you are going behind a parent’s back to break the parent’s rules with their own child, there is a good chance a Court will not find that the parent has unreasonably restricted your contact.
It is important that as a grandparent, you support the parent caring for your grandchild.
If necessary, be a resource to supervise contact between your own child and your grandchildren.
A grandparent rights case may not be the answer to your particular situation. This is why we suggest you consult with an experienced family law attorney. There may be other options for your case including seeking a guardianship or filing for adoption.
Our Nevada family law attorneys have extensive experience with grandparent visitation cases, child guardianships, adoptions and terminations. We have handled over 2,000 family law matters and have conducted close to 100 family law trials. Let our experience help protect your rights.
If you are considering filing for grandparent rights contact us today for an initial consultation. We represent clients throughout Summerlin, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. We employ common sense and attempt to cost-effectively resolve disputes. When the need arises, however, we are prepared to litigate and take matters to trial. Don’t wait. Call our family law attorneys today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information.