If you are seeking full custody or visitation of grandchildren in Utah, there are several ways to go about it. But you should be aware that most of the available options depend upon the parents’ support of you gaining custody. Understandably, parents’ rights trump all others when it comes to their children’s care. So only if the parents agree to the grandparents gaining custody or to the visitation, or if the parents are deemed unfit, would the grandparents be awarded custody.
The 3 possible court actions to gain custody of grandchildren:
- Guardianship: To obtain guardianship, you must have a written letter from both of the grandchildren’s parents granting their consent (or you must be able to show the parents are dead, missing, incapacitated, or have had their rights terminated).
- Custody for Persons Other Than a Parent Act: Here you must show (a) you intentionally assumed the role and obligations of a parent; (b) formed an emotional bond and created a parent-child type relationship with the child; (c) contributed emotionally or financially to the child’s well being; (d) your assumption of the parental role is not the result of a financially compensated surrogate care arrangement; (e) continuation of your relationship with the child would be in the child’s best interests; (f) loss or cessation of that relationship would be detrimental to the child; and (g) the parent: (i) is absent; or (ii) is found by a court to have abused or neglected the child.
- Abuse/Neglect/Dependency Action: These actions are often brought to juvenile court by the Child Protection Agency when trying to show the parents are unfit. Grandparents can then be awarded temporary or permanent custody if it is in the child’s best interest.
In some cases, you as a grandparent may be seeking visitation for grandchildren. This may be because you ex-son/daughter-in-law has custody of their children and does not allow you to see them, or perhaps you have an estranged relationship with your son or daughter, or for other reasons. If your grandchildren’s parents are denying you visitation, you can petition the court to overrule the parents. But, similarly to the custody requirements, there are several criteria the court considers in order for you to win visitation rights of your grandchildren:
- you are a fit and proper person to have visitation with the grandchild;
- visitation with the grandchild has been denied or unreasonably limited;
- the parent is unfit or incompetent;
- You have acted as the grandchild’s custodian or caregiver, or otherwise has had a substantial relationship with the grandchild, and the loss or cessation of that relationship is likely to cause harm to the grandchild;
- your child, who is a parent of the grandchild, has died, or has become a noncustodial parent through divorce or legal separation;
- your child, who is a parent of the grandchild, has been missing for an extended period of time; or
- visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild.
Getting Help with Your Utah Custody Case
If you are looking into grandparent custody or visitation rights and need legal help, we’re here for you. You need to ensure you consult with a competent family law attorney that understands the legalities of the Grandparent Statute and will help put your mind at ease so you don’t get taken advantage of. At CoilLaw, LLC, Salt Lake City attorney Jill Coil knows how to advise you during a custody case to help you achieve the best result possible. At CoilLaw we are ready and available to help you through your legal action. If you need legal advice concerning a Utah family law issue, call Jill Coil at CoilLaw LLC in Utah at (801) 939-6027 today.