Can A Third-Party Be Granted Child Visitation Rights?

9 January 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog

In a divorce procedure involving children, working with a family law attorney is highly recommended, especially if the married couple has decided to stop communicating. The family law attorney will hold most of the discussions with the other party when negotiating on matters such as child custody. Child-related matters can sometimes be contentious and this article discusses whether child visitation rights can be granted to a third-party.

Child custody and third-party visitation issues

Third-party visitation issues can be very difficult to solve in certain cases. Because of their complexity, certain judges sometimes decide to grant child custody to family relatives or grandparents who are deemed to be better fits. However, depending on the state, the financial responsibility for the children may still be on the parent deemed to be unfit during the visitation, provided that child custody has already been granted to the other parent.

Assessing whether a parent is fit

There are different categories of third parties that may be granted child visitation rights. These include

  • Grandparents
  • Family relatives
  • Close family friends

To determine whether a parent is fit or not, the court will conduct a careful analysis. The main focus of this analysis will be to see if the parent can provide a sufficiently safe, loving, and caring family environment for their kids. If the judge determines that it's in the children's best interests that the kids stay with someone else than that parent, then they will turn to a third-party. Any of the categories of third parties listed above is entitled to file a petition if they want to be granted the visitation rights.

When determining which parent should become the legal guardian of the kids, judges conduct a similar investigation. If upon the results of the analysis both parents are deemed to be unfit, child custody will ultimately be granted to a third-party. In rare cases, close family friends are the best alternative when seeking a third-party for child visitation rights. This is especially true if they can show that they used to live with the children, or have developed a strong connection with them.

What can parents do about third-party visitation rights?

As mentioned earlier, any third-party has the right to step in to submit a petition to receive child visitation rights. Assuming that the petition is approved, either parent is entitled to appeal it as long as they weren't themselves deemed unfit.

Given the complexity of child visitation rights, it's very important to work with family law attorneys, such as Nancy Bunting, who know all the ins and outs of these matters.