Child custody is one of the most sensitive aspects of a divorce or separation. If the parents are unable to care for the child, a grandparent may step in to perform parental duties. If you’re a grandparent who wants to gain custody of your grandchildren or receive visitation rights, here are some important things you should know as an Indiana resident.
Conditions for seeking custody or visitation
A grandparent can seek visitation rights if the parents of the child are deceased or if the parents got divorced in Indiana according to Section 31-17-5-1. The courts will likely research to ensure that the grandchildren have a relationship with their grandparents and would be safe in their grandparents’ care. The courts may also conduct additional research to see if the child’s parents are fit to care for the child. For instance, if a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, has neglected the child, or has been accused of abusing the child, the grandparent(s) may be awarded child custody or visitation which will allow the grandparent to legally care for the grandchild.
If a child is born to unmarried parents, the paternal grandparents of the child can not be awarded child custody or visitation for the grandchild unless the father of the child has proven paternity.
If a child’s primary parent passes away, the grandparent related to the deceased parent of the child will be awarded visitation if the courts can verify that the grandparent is of sound mind and body to care for the grandchild. Additional circumstances pertaining to visitation or custody of the grandchild are subject to the judge’s discretion.