Do courts in Missouri intervene in grandparents’ rights issues?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Thursday, November 13, 2014.

Courts in Missouri generally recognize the right of parents to make decisions about how they want to raise their minor children without having their decisions second-guessed by the state. This includes decisions that limit the amount of time grandparents can visit with their grandchildren.

No less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the issue when it agreed with the mother in a case where a state court judge overturned her decision to restrict her children’s visitation with their grandparents. The court overturned a state law that allowed a judge to rule in favor of grandparents’ rights if the judge believed that such rights were in the best interests of the children.

The state of Missouri passed legislation designed to abide by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the rights of parents while also recognizing that family law issues change when parents are divorced, a parent dies or grandparents assume the role of caregiver.

The statute allows a court to consider a petition for visitation filed by grandparents only under one of the following circumstances:

  • Grandparents may intervene for visitation in a divorce or other court proceeding in which the parents are seeking to end their marriage;
  • If a parent dies, grandparents may petition for visitation if the surviving parent refuses to grant them reasonable visitation. This only applies to petitions filed by the parents of the deceased parent.
  • When children have lived with the grandparents for six of the past 24 months, the grandparents may file for visitation if the children return to live with a parent who prevents visitation with the grandparents for at least 90 days. Courts may not intervene if the children are living with both of their parents who are legally married.

Family legal issues, including those pertaining to grandparents’ rights, are complex. Advice about family law issues should only be obtained from an attorney who is familiar with the facts associated with a person’s particular situation. This posting is not intended or offered as legal advice regarding the rights of grandparents.

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