Grandparents’ Rights in Indiana
The State of Indiana recognizes that grandparents often develop a special relationship with their grandchildren and that the continuation of such a relationship is often in the best interests of children. As a result, the legislature has established Indiana grandparents’ rights in specific circumstances.
When parents divorce or pass away, grandparents may fear that they will lose the right to see their grandchildren. The bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren are often unbreakable. Maintaining these bonds may serve the best interests of the child, which is the standard in Indiana child custody cases.
The child custody attorneys at Stein Law help grandparents continue to build these special relationships.
Do grandparents in Indiana have a right to seek visitation?
The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2000 restricting states from broadly allowing rights to grandparents because it violated parents’ constitutional right to make decisions concerning their children.
However, the Indiana grandparent rights laws allow grandparents to file a petition for visitation in limited circumstances, which do not violate the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling:
- The parents divorce
- The parent related to the grandparents passes away
- The child is born out of wedlock
In the case of paternal grandparents, paternity must be established before the grandparents may seek visitation.
How do you file for grandparents’ rights in Indiana?
Grandparents who wish to seek visitation are required to file a petition entitled “In Re the visitation of ______” that lists the desired visitation times and describes the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren.
The petition should also state whether the petition is being filed due to divorce, the death of a parent, or a child being born out of wedlock. After the parents are served a copy of the petition, a hearing will be scheduled and the court will render a decision. The court may modify the order later according to the best interests of the child.
What factors does the court consider when awarding visitation to grandparents?
The court always considers the best interests of the child when a petition is filed for visitation. When assessing the child’s interests concerning visitation, the court will consider the following:
The judge may interview the child in chambers to make this determination. Counsel may be present during such an interview at the court’s discretion.
What can I do if a parent violates the visitation order?
Once the court has ordered visitation, a parent is required by law to make the child available for such visitation. Parents who fail to follow a court order may be held in contempt of court. This could result in the following:
- A sentence to complete community service work
- An order to resume parenting time as ordered
- An order to pay the grandparent’s attorney fees and court costs
Do I have any recourse if the parent wants to move away?
Grandparents have the right to receive a notification when the custodial parent intends to move more than 20 miles away. If you receive such a notification, you have a right to object in court.
The court will consider the best interests of the child, the parent’s reason for the relocation, and the impact of the relocation on visitation with grandparents and the other parent. The court may allow the move and establish a new visitation schedule.
Will I lose visitation with my grandchildren if they are adopted?
Before your grandchild is adopted by a stepparent or other party, you are entitled to receive notice of the adoption if you have been awarded visitation in most cases. If the child is being adopted by a stepparent or a biological relative, grandparent visitation rights survive the adoption.
However, to best protect your rights, it is always a good idea to check with your family law attorney as soon as you become aware that your grandchild may be adopted.
Do grandparents have custody rights in Indiana?
Grandparents may be eligible for custody of a child if they match the legal definition of a “de facto custodian.” To meet this definition, the child must have resided with the grandparents for at least six months if under the age of three or one year at any other age.
If determined that the grandparents are, in fact, de facto custodians, the court may add the grandparents as parties to the case. The court may award custody to the grandparents if a determination is made that it would serve the child’s best interests. In making this determination, the court must consider the following:
If the court does award custody to the grandparents due to being a de facto guardian, the grandparents will have legal custody of the child, which means they will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Do custodial grandparents have the right to receive child support?
The law requires parents to provide support for their children until they turn 18. If the grandparents are awarded custody, they may be eligible to receive child support from both parents according to state child support guidelines.
How can an Indiana grandparents’ rights lawyer help with my case?
Child custody and visitation issues can become heated in families due to the high emotional stakes involved in these types of cases. The attorneys at Stein Law understand how important the grandparent-grandchild relationship is, and we are committed to helping families resolve these issues as amicably as possible.
Our attorneys know how to help families work through conflicts and arrive at acceptable solutions for all parties involved. Our goal is to help your family arrive at these solutions outside of court through mediation and negotiation.
When a meeting of minds is impossible, our attorneys are prepared to fight for your right to remain an important part of your grandchildren’s lives. We will prepare and file your petition and represent your interests, presenting your case in the most favorable light to the court.