Divorce affects an entire family, especially when children are involved. As a complex legal situation arises regarding child support, custody and visitation, grandparents may wonder if they are able to legally ensure they can still see their grandchildren.
Grandparents have special relationships with their grandchildren and since 2001 the law has chosen to recognize the relationship between the child and a third party, which may be a grandparent, rather than the familial relationship of grandparent and grandchild. Grandparents, or any third party, can pursue court ordered parenting time or custody of minor children under Oregon Law.
Petitioning the Court for Visitation Rights
The court’s decision to grant rights of visitation depends on the third party’s relationship with the child as well as the relationship between the child and the parents. The court will consider:
- Parents ability to care for child/children
- The grandparent of other third party has an established relationship with the child; and
- The custodial parent denied the third party of visitation of the grandchild, which was not in the child’s best interest.
The court will grant visitation or contact rights to if it determines this personal relationship has been established – and doing so is in the best interest of the child. Contact or temporary visitation rights may be ordered before a final order is granted.
Petitioning for Custody of Grandchildren
According to Oregon Law (ORS 109.119,) a third party “… who has established emotional ties creating a child-parent relationship or an ongoing personal relationship with a child may petition or file a motion for intervention with the court having jurisdiction over the custody, placement or guardianship of that child, or if no such proceedings are pending, may petition the court for the county in which the child resides, for an order providing for relief….”
In this instance, “child-parent relationship” refers to a current or past relationship between the third party and child within the six months before the petition was filed. The relationship may or may not involve physical custody of a child. The grandparent and grandchild may have lived in the same household, or the grandparent supplied the child with “…food, clothing, shelter and incidental necessaries and provided the child with necessary care, education and discipline …” and fulfilled the child’s psychological and physical needs for a parent on a daily basis.
Questions about Grandparent Visitation or Custody?
Oregon law is complicated for third parties, as the state first emphasizes the rights of a child’s legal parents. A grandparent or other third party who wishes to seek custody, parenting time, temporary power of attorney or guardianship should consult with an experienced lawyer right away to have the best chance of success.
Pacific Cascade Family Law can help you if you’ve been denied access, parenting time, or are planning to file for custody of your grandchild. Navigating this complex legal situation alone could hurt your case. We can get you on the right track.
Contact us online or call (503) 227-0200 to discuss your situation with an experienced Oregon legal team. Our lawyers are committed to providing open communication, personalized attention and straightforward legal advice to best assist our clients. Our office is located in Portland, and we also offer initial consultations in Beaverton and Clackamas.