Sometimes a non-custodial parent believes that they can avoid paying
court ordered child support by giving the child music lessons, buying
them clothing, records, or disposable diapers. The court usually takes
a dim view of this, and declares such things as gifts, disallowing
?gifts? in lieu of actual child support payments.
I?m afraid that my research shows that giving a grandchild money,
gifts or even a sizeable trust fund has no bearing on a grandparent
winning visitation rights. If you think about it, it really wouldn?t
be quite fair to grandparents that don?t have the means to do so.
Speaking of parents again, most courts encourage visitation by a
non-custodial parent, even if that parent is in arrears with child
support. The child?s welfare should always be of prime importance.
I was unable to find a single reference to gifts or accounts of any
kind facilitating grandparental visitation. It is possible that this
practice was in existence many years ago, but it does not appear to be
in effect today. So far, states have taken grandparent visitation
cases on a case by case and state by state level.
Please keep in mind that this answer is for informational purposes
only, and does not serve as legal advice. For sound legal council
regarding this matter, you will need to speak to an attorney. At the
end of my answer I have posted a list of attorneys that are familiar
with Ohio visitation law. Because of copyright laws, I have included
small snippets of text from various sites. You may read the articles
in their entirety by clicking each link.
Grandparent Visitation in Ohio
What I did find was that grandparents of a child whose parents are
legally married have virtually no rights. An attorney may be able to
assist your friend in getting some visitation, but this is not
mandated by law. Mediation may also be a solution in obtaining some
?Grandparents who face parental resistance to their contact with
beloved grandchildren might consider requesting a mediation session
with the children's parents. (In fact, some state courts won't
consider your petition for visitation until the parties have attended
mediation together.) Mediation means that you hire a neutral third
party to help all of you create a legally binding agreement that
everyone can respect and live with.?
More about mediation from Nolo:
These are organizations that can assist in visitation mediation:
American Bar Association: http://www.abanet.org/dispute
American Arbitration Association: http://www.adr.org
Academy of Family Mediators: http://www.mediators.org
Conflict Resolution Center: http://www.conflictres.org.
?In Ohio, the law says that grandparents can only seek court-ordered
visitation if the child?s parents are unmarried, or if the child?s
parents have filed for divorce or dissolution or legal separation, or
if one of the child?s parents has died. Also, Ohio courts must respect
a parent?s decision when deciding whether to award visitation. The
court also must consider whether grandparent visitation would be in
the child?s best interest.?
Ohio State Bar Association
Another Ohio State Bar Association page has this:
Q.: We are having a family dispute and now our son and daughter-in-law
won't let us see our grandchildren. What can we do?
A.: Probably nothing. Grandparents' visitation rights are statutory.
There is no statutory right to a visitation order when the family is
intact. Only children that are illegitimate, or have divorced or
deceased parents may be the subject of court-ordered visitation. The
reason is that generally, the right to be free from governmental
interference in everyday life is a constitutionally protected right.
Therefore, unless the State has some compelling interest (such as
protecting a child that is illegitimate, has a deceased parent or is a
ward of the Court through divorce) it cannot order visitation.
Q.: We don't approve of our daughter's lifestyle and we think we
should have custody of our grandchildren. How difficult is it to get
A.: It's fairly difficult. You may file a complaint for custody in
juvenile court. At the hearing, however, the Court will not give you
custody even if you can show it may be in the children's best interest
to be in your custody. You have to prove that both parents are UNFIT
and, unless there is some clear sign of abuse or neglect, that is
difficult to prove.
On this site, from THE OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY, October, 2000
?In Ohio, a grandparent may be granted visitation rights by a court if the
grandchild?s mother is unmarried or the parents are divorced, separated, or
deceased. The court can grant visitation rights after considering all relevant
factors, including those specified in statute, if it determines that
visitation is in the best interest of the child.?
It goes on to say that the US Supreme court found a similar Washington
state ruling unconstitutional, because it infringed on parental
rights. Whether this Supreme Court ruling will affect grandparent
visitation laws in the future remains to be seen.
?Ohio has authorized grandparent companionship or visitation
rights by statute in three situations: (1) when married parents terminate
marriage or separate, (2) when a parent of the child is deceased, and (3) when
the child is born to an unmarried woman. In such cases, a court may order
reasonable visitation if it is in the best interest of the child. In the absence of
an event that disrupts an intact family, the Ohio Supreme Court has declined
to permit courts to order grandparent visitation.?
Even in cases of abuse or neglect, the Revised State Code does not
provide for grandparental visitation. The Ohio Department of Job and
Family Services does, however, have a policy ?that requires a public
children services agency (PCSA) or private child placing agency PCPA)
to arrange for such visitation in certain circumstances. When a child
is in temporary custody, the PCSA or PCPA must make arrangements for
family members to have the opportunity to visit or communicate with
the child, if it is in the child?s best interest. (O.A.C.
The court does, however take into consideration these things when
issuing an order of visitation with grandparents:
-If the court has had a private interview with the child, the child?s
wishes may considered. Only the child, the attorney representing the
child, the judge, and nay necessary court personnel, (and if the judge
deems necessary, the parent?s attorneys) are allowed to be present
during the interview.
-Whether the child has had a prior relationship with the grandparents
-The child?s age
-The physical distance between the child?s residence and the grandparent?s
-The child?s safety and mental/emotional health
-The mental and physical health of all parties
If the court denies grandparents the right to visitation, the
grandparents may file a written request for the findings of facts and
conclusions. (Reasons why visitation was denied)
Anderson?s Ohio Online Docs, has posted a copy of the most recent
revised Ohio State Code, current as of January 13, 2004. This page is
written in frames - To get to the section of grandparent?s visitation,
follow these steps:
Click on ?Page?s Ohio?s Revised Code?
Click on ?Title 31, Children?
Click on 3109 ?Children?
Click on 3109.05.01 ?Order Granting Parenting Time or Companionship or
(1) In a divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation,
annulment, or child support proceeding that involves a child, the
court may grant reasonable companionship or visitation rights to any
grandparent, any person related to the child by consanguinity or
affinity, or any other person other than a parent, if all of the
(a) The grandparent, relative, or other person files a motion with the
court seeking companionship or visitation rights.
(b) The court determines that the grandparent, relative, or other
person has an interest in the welfare of the child.
(c) The court determines that the granting of the companionship or
visitation rights is in the best interest of the child.
This archived American Bar Association web page, from July, 2003, has
a chart showing the visitation laws for all states. As you can see,
grandparents are given visitation rights in Ohio.In certain cases, and
circumstances are not listed.
?C) Notwithstanding division (A) of this section, if the relationship
of parent and child has not been terminated between a parent and that
parent's child and a spouse of the other parent of the child adopts
the child, a grandparent's or relative's right to companionship or
visitation pursuant to section 3109.11 of the Revised Code is not
restricted or curtailed by the adoption.? Ammendments to the Revised
About Trust Funds for Grandchildren:
This Elder Law site discusses trust funds for grandchildren, but makes
no mention of a connection with trust funds and visitation.
This Grand Times document by Loma Davies Silcott, gives valuable tips
on grandparent rights such as :
In the case of divorce, try to have the grandparent visitation
included in the divorce decree.
Do your best to keep the child/children out of any animosity between
parents and grandparents.
?Many times, grandparents have been legislated out of existence
because of temporary problems." He recommends that even though there
will be emotional and financial costs, grandparents should go to court
if that is the only way to resolve the conflict. However, most,
including the American Bar Association, believe court should be the
last resort. They recommend going to professional, third-party
Here is an interesting Ohio case:
You may find this grandparents discussion group useful:
Divorce Source has some tips for grandparent?s visitation:
A list of Child Custody lawyers, in Ohio
Well, sevon, I realize this is probably not the answer you wanted to
hear. However, I am not a lawyer, nor do I know the circumstances of
this matter. I would advise your friend to seek mediation or legal
council in order to find an avenue in which to maintain a relationship
with his/her grandchild. If your friend is unable to visit with the
child, she/he can call by phone, e-mail,send cards, money, and gifts.
Have your friend keep a record of such gifts and attempts to contact
the child, as this can prove intent to continue a relationship, but
mostly to show the child that she/he is loved.
If any part of my answer is unclear, or if I have duplicated any
information you already had, please request an Answer Clarification,
before rating. By doing so, I will be able to assist you further, if
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