Child custody and parenting time issues can be complex and emotional for parents. But parents aren’t always the only parties involved in child custody and visitation disputes. In some situations, grandparents may be denied the chance to see their grandchildren or may even want to obtain custody of their grandchildren. In both Missouri and Kansas, there are legal options, albeit limited, that can be pursued for grandparents who find themselves in these situations.
In Missouri, grandparents can file for visitation with their grandchildren during or after a divorce or after the death of a parent. However, an award of grandparent visitation is conditioned upon unreasonable denial of visitation for a period exceeding ninety days, and the Court’s visitation award cannot be excessive or overly intrusive.
In Kansas, grandparents can also file for visitation, and there is no requirement for a period of unreasonable denial of visitation. Grandparents must prove, however, that they have a substantial and continuing relationship with their grandchildren and that it would be in the best interest of the children to have visitation with their grandparents. There is also a presumption that grandparents pay the legal costs of the parents in any proceeding in which they seek grandparent visitation.
In both Missouri and Kansas, there are also situations in which grandparents can seek third-party custody of their grandchildren. This requires that the parents be unfit, unable or unwilling to care for the children, as parents have a constitutional right to raise their children without interference from the grandparents.
Grandparent relationships are often vital to both the children and the grandparents, so it is important to discuss grandparent visitation whenever parents are going through a divorce or other custody action. Many grandparent visitation issues can be avoided with a thoughtful and organized parenting plan that addresses the importance of the grandparent relationship.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your rights in relation to your grandchildren, you should consult with a family lawyer to find out which of these options might be available in your specific situation.
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