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Eugene Nassif

In Iowa grandparents and great grandparents can ask a court to grant you visitation rights to your grand or great grandchild only if their own child is deceased. In other words, you are only allowed to request visitation if your child, the grandchild’s parent, is deceased. If the child’s parent (your child) has not passed, a grandparent has no legal right to visitation under Iowa law.  


In this article, we discuss how a grandparent would go about acquiring visitation rights to see their grandchildren. We cover the following:

  • How does a Judge Decide Whether to Grant Grandparents’ Visitation Rights? 
  • What Evidence Can You Present to Show That a Custodial Parent is Unfit?
  • A Court’s Decision to Grant Grandparent’s Visitation Rights


How does a Judge Decide Whether to Grant Grandparents’ Visitation Rights? 


Should your child be deceased, grandparents may sue for visitation rights. Grandparents will need to prove that their relationship with their grandchild is substantial and they must convince the court that visitation rights are in the child’s best interest. There are a number of factors that need to be met in order for a judge to grant you visitation rights for your grandchild.   

First, you must show that you have a substantial relationship with the grandchild. The grandparents can show this by providing evidence that the grandparents have been the primary caretaker of the child for six months, the grandparents have financially supported the child for at least six months or the grandparents have had frequent contact (stays with the grandparents including overnights) with the grandchild for at least a year.  


What Evidence Can You Present to Show That a Custodial Parent is Unfit?


The grandparents must show that the custodial parent is unfit to make the visitation decision or their judgment has been impaired. This can be shown through evidence of neglect or abuse of the grandchild, violence or threats of violence towards the grandchild, drug abuse by the custodial parent or severe mental illness by the Custodial Parent. The evidence must be significant enough that visitation by the grandparents would be in the best interests of the child. 


The court will make a number of additional considerations. The court may ask the child about their preferences. The court may consider how far the grandparents live from the remaining parent. Finally, the court may consider the grandparent and grandchild's health/safety, the child’s age, the grandparent’s background (including but not limited to criminal charges), and any other relevant concerns.  


A Court’s Decision to Grant Grandparent’s Visitation Rights


There is no guarantee that a court will grant a grandparent visitation rights of their grandchild.  Pursuing alternatives to litigation, including mediation, family counseling or therapy might be the right option. Consulting an attorney can help you decide what option best fits your needs. 


Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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