A grandparent holds a very special role in the life of his or her grandchild. Grandparents are often role models and supportive figures that signify warmth and caring. However, grandparents in Arkansas who have visitation withheld by both or either parent may wonder if there is any legal recourse regarding their rights to see their grandchild.
Fortunately, there are legal options when it comes to grandparent visitation rights in the State of Arkansas. Our civil court system gives you an avenue for fostering these valuable relationships with your grandchildren.
Since each case is unique, speaking with an Arkansas family law attorney will help you understand how to move forward in obtaining visitation. He or she can discuss the details of your case with you and provide legal insight into your options as a caring grandparent.
Arkansas Permits Visitation Requests Under Specific Circumstances
Arkansas civil courts recognize the importance of visitation between the grandchild and his or her grandparents. While there are a few legal obstacles to overcome when requesting visitation, it is not an impossible feat. Arkansas courts provide guidelines and follow state statutes for establishing the best interest of the child.
There are a few conditions your request must meet when filing a petition for visitation. To receive visitation rights, you must prove a few things:
- You have a legally recognized relationship with the child as a grandparent or great-grandparent
- The relationship has been severed by:
- Separation, divorce, or death; or
- Parental withholding
Family courts assume that the parent is acting in the best interest of the child, which is the central tenet of decision-making when it comes to custody and child support issues. Therefore, it is your responsibility to refute that presumption by proving that visitation with you is in the child’s best interest.
While proving the biological grandparent-grandchild relationship is generally a straightforward process, there may be paternity issues that come into question for specific cases. Establishing biological paternity may be another aspect in asserting your rights to visitation as a legally bonded family member.
What to Expect from the Courts When Requesting Visitation
When it comes to knowing how courts handle grandparent visitation requests, it is essential to understand the concept of what the best interest of the child means. The judge assigned to your case must operate under the presumption that the parents know what is best for the child unless otherwise proven.
Therefore, courts task the grandparents with demonstrating why the visitation is best for the grandchild and that a significant, meaningful relationship is already established. Judges use a few guidelines to determine which course of action to take.
A grandparent must demonstrate that he or she was part of the following circumstances:
- He or she was a caregiver of the child for at least 6 consecutive months
- The grandparent had regular contact with the child for at least 12 consecutive months
- The loss of the relationship will cause the child harm
In addition, the judge will also consider whether or not the grandparent is capable of providing affection, guidance, and love to the child. For example, a grandparent may have spent a considerable amount of time with the child but may have withheld love. In th0se cases, the judge will deny the visitation request.
A demonstrated willingness to cooperate with the parents is also taken into consideration. If a judge approves the visitation, then visits must run concurrently with the existing parenting plan. For instance, if the mother has visitation, then the maternal grandparents can elect to receive visitation time when the child is with his or her mother. This concept mitigates future conflict by not infringing on the rights of time spent with the child’s father.
Once courts grant visitation, grandparents are now part of the legal conversation when it comes to filing visitation modifications, adding restrictions, or placing sanctions on parties who refuse to comply with the visitation order.
How Working with an Arkansas Family Law Attorney Can Help
While state and federal laws do not require you to have an Arkansas family law attorney to approach the court, there are several significant advantages to hiring a lawyer to file your petition and argue your case in court.
Working with Owings Law Firm will help you to:
- Protect your rights. Several laws protect your rights as a grandparent, but it is challenging to know what they are or how to assert them. An Arkansas family law attorney will protect your rights at every critical point.
- Follow the rules of civil procedure. Arkansas civil courts process and manage cases based on the Rules of Civil Procedure. There are nearly 90 directives you must follow, just like an attorney. Hiring an Arkansas legal professional ensures that your case does not miss a single step.
- Provide legal counsel. When obtaining grandparents’ visitation, questions will naturally arise throughout the entire legal proceedings. No matter what questions you have, Owings Law Firm is ready to help you find answers to ensure your peace of mind.
- Establish a case strategy. Every case is different. As such, clients need an individualized legal plan when approaching visitation rights. Owings Law Firm will work to understand your family dynamics and apply the law to achieve the best resolution possible for the given situation.
Opening a visitation issue between you and your child or your child’s ex is complicated. At Owings Law Firm, we understand the unique challenges of these types of cases. As an Arkansas family law attorney, Tammy Gattis has 27 years of experience in helping families find equitable and reasonable solutions in cases like yours.
Contact Owings Law Firm for an Initial Case Evaluation
If you want to learn more about how you can obtain visitation rights with your grandchild, speaking with an Arkansas family law attorney will help you understand your options. The legal team at Owings Law Firm invites you to contact our office for an initial case evaluation. You can reach us at 501-661-9999 or by submitting a request through our online contact form