Grandparent Visitation and Divorce
There is a lot of language in Ohio law that refers to “the best interests of the child.” When talking about grandparent’s visitation rights with a divorce, there are a number of “best interest” considerations that the court must take into account.
Any “best interest” decisions have to start with the actual language of the court order or mediation agreement. The court will then go on to look at the following eleven factors, which will actually apply to all visitation and custody rights decisions:
1.The wishes and concerns of the child's parents; 2.The prior interaction and interrelationships of the child with
parents and other relatives;
3.The location of the grandparent’s residence and the distance between it
and the child’s residence;
4.The child's and parents' available time; 5.The child's age; 6.The child's adjustment to home, school, and community; 7.The wishes of the child if the court has interviewed the child in
8.The health and safety of the child; 9.The amount of time that a child has available to spend with siblings; 10.The mental and physical health of all parties; 11.Whether the person seeking visitation has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving an act that resulted in a child being abused or neglected.
A court is under no obligation to tell the parties why visitation is denied, although the judge may issue a written order explaining the decision. If there is no such order, any party can ask the judge for an explanation, which is called a “finding of fact and conclusion of law.”
Grandparent Rights After Divorce and Adoption by a New Spouse
While a marriage or remarriage of a parent will not affect a visitation order, or the power of the court to modify a visitation order, an adoption can be an entirely different animal, depending on the circumstances of the adoption.
In most cases, where there is a divorce, or where the parents never married, and an adoption order terminates the parental rights of one of the parents, that adoption order also terminates the visitation rights of any relatives of the parent whose rights were terminated. That includes grandparents. So if the mother remarries, and the mother’s new husband adopts the child, under most adoption orders, the father’s parental rights are terminated, and so the visitation rights of the father’s parents would also be terminated.
If the adoption order does not terminate parental rights, then the grandparent’s visitation rights are also not affected.
An exception to this general rule is an adoption after a parent has died and the surviving parent remarries. Ohio has a law in those cases where grandparent’s visitation rights remain intact, and where the court can continue to modify the visitation rights of the relatives of the deceased parent.