Grandparent’s Rights

As important as the relationship between children and their grandparents might be, the United States Supreme Court has consistently ruled in favor of protecting the fundamental right of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children. Grandparents in Medina, North Canton, and Wooster might benefit from Ohio laws that grant limited rights to them on issues such as:

  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Making decisions on behalf of the child
  • Being notified of the child’s placement with a children’s services agency

A Medina family law attorney who is familiar with the rights of grandparents in the state of Ohio is an excellent resource for information and guidance when there are problems involving grandparents and their grandchildren.

Ohio Grandparent Visitation

The right of grandparents to petition a court for visitation is limited under Ohio Revised Code section 3109.12. If children reside with their married parents, the statute reflects the Supreme Court decisions respecting the rights of parents to limit or deny visitation in situations involving grandparents.

For a court to entertain a petition by Medina, North Canton, or Wooster grandparents for visitation under the statute, one of three circumstances must exist:

  • The parents of the child are unmarried
  • The child’s parent is deceased
  • The child’s parents are divorced, separated, or there is a court action pending for divorce, dissolution, annulment, or separation

If an unmarried woman gives birth to a child, the maternal grandparents may petition for visitation. The paternal grandparents of a child born out of wedlock cannot petition a court for visitation until after paternity has been legally established.

  • Grandparents can file a motion asking a court to grant them visitation if one of the three circumstances specified in the domestic relations statute exist. The motion can be filed in the same court in which a divorce, separation, dissolution, annulment, support, or paternity action is pending or in which such an action was previously heard. If the child’s parents are not married, the grandparents can file their application in the Common Pleas Court in the county of the child’s residence.

The court hearing a motion for grandparent visitation will consider many factors before reaching a decision. Some of the factors the legislation suggests that a court take into consideration include:

  • The age of the child
  • The wishes of the parents
  • The availability of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parties to the proceeding
  • The wishes of the child
  • Any factors the court believes are important in establishing the best interest of the child

Grandparents’ Right to Child Support

Parents frequently find themselves in the position of having a minor child under the age of 18 residing with them can along with the minor’s children. In such a situation, the parents can petition the juvenile court for a paternity order and child support for the grandchildren.

If the grandparents are providing support for their minor child and for their grandchildren, they can file the paternity and support action against the father themselves, or they can ask a child support enforcement agency in Medina, Wooster, or North Canton to do it for them. A court order establishing paternity would also benefit the grandparents in the event they must resort to the courts for visitation in the future.

Custody Rights of Grandparents

It is difficult for grandparents to take custody away from a child’s parent. Even a finding by the court that a parent is unfit, the grandparents might not get custody if the other parent is capable of caring for the child.

Recent changes to the law in Ohio give grandparents the right to receive notification if a child is removed from the home of its parents by a juvenile court order giving temporary custody to a children’s services agency in Medina, Wooster, North Canton, or other community Ohio. The grandparents are afforded the right to file for custody under those circumstances.

Caretaker Authorization Affidavits

Section 3109.65 of the Ohio Revised Code offers a remedy for grandparents who are caring for a grandchild whose parents cannot be located. Grandparents can execute a caretaker authorization affidavit to give them authority to have physical custody of the child and to make decisions regarding the child’s education, enroll the child in school, and consent to medical treatment for the child in Medina, Wooster, or North Canton.

Under prior law, a caretaker authorization affidavit terminated one year after it was created or if the child no longer resided with the grandparent. A change to the law eliminated the one-year expiration clause under the original statute. The new law also gives grandparents the right to petition a court for custody in the event the parents remove the child from the home of the grandparents.

Residential Grandparent Power of Attorney

Parents can designate a grandparent to have authority to enroll grandchildren in school, consent to medical treatment and to make other decisions regarding the care and well-being of the child. A power of attorney under section 3109.52 of the Ohio Revised Code is a means by which a parent can give a grandparent with whom a child resides the authority care for the child and to make childcare decisions.

A power of attorney does not affect the parental rights of the child’s parents. It also does not give the grandparents authority to consent to the adoption or marriage of child. Recent changes to the law authorize a grandparent to file a complaint in juvenile court in Medina, Wooster, or North Canton requesting custody in the event the parent revokes the power of attorney. The Child can remain at the residence of the grandparent during the 14-day period that the law gives for filing the complaint with the court.