If you have a family member who has gone through a divorce or a custody dispute, you know that these types of cases can affect more than just the two individuals in the relationship. When children are involved in a divorce or custody matter in Mississippi, a realm of issues may arise. As a parent of one of the parties involved in this type of case, you may be wondering what rights you have to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren. The goal of the courts in addressing issues related to children is to provide for the best interest of each child. In Mississippi, grandparent visitation can be awarded by any court that has the authority to decide child custody matters. Most commonly, child custody matters are decided in Chancery courts.
Have you recently been denied access to visit with your grandchildren? If so, there may be a solution. There are several situations in Mississippi where grandparents may seek visitation. For example, if your child did not receive custody of his/her children or if your child's parental rights have been terminated, you may seek visitation with your grandchildren in the court that issued the divorce or custody decree. On the other hand, if your child has died, leaving your grandchildren in the custody of the other parent or another relative, you may seek visitation in the county where your grandchild lives.
If the previous situations do not apply to you, there still may be a chance to gain grandparent visitation rights. You may seek rights to visitation in chancery court. In this situation, you will be required to show that you have a "viable relationship" with your grandchild and that you are being unreasonably denied access to visit with your grandchild. In this situation, a viable relationship means that you have supported your grandchild financially in whole or in part for at least six (6) months prior to seeking grandparent visitation and that you have had frequent visitation with your grandchild, including occasional overnight visits, for a period of at least one (1) year prior to seeking visitation rights. You will also be required to show that your visitation with your grandchildren will be in their best interest. Judges want to provide a chance to maintain preexisting relationships between children and their grandparents as long as the relationship will benefit the children and not cause too much conflict among families.
To recap, grandparent visitation may be awarded in the following scenarios:
1. Your child has either not been granted custody of their child or their parental rights have been terminated (Type 1 visitation);
2. Your child is deceased (Type 1 visitation); or,
3. You previously have had a viable relationship with your grandchildren and your visitation with the children would be in your grandchild's best interest (Type 2 visitation).
Source: Miss. Code Ann. §93-16-3.
The chance to spend time with your grandchildren is precious and should not be unreasonably denied. If you have been denied the chance to visit with your grandchildren in Mississippi and would like to discuss your options, contact M. Devin Whitt. Devin is an experienced family law attorney who will work earnestly to address your issues. Please contact Devin Whitt at 601.607.5055.