The bond between grandparent and grandchild is a beautiful and special thing. It is often as deep and meaningful as the bond between parents and children, but the generational separation often lends itself to special attachments. Seeing one another frequently can help build that bond.
As a grandparent, you likely spend a lot of time, effort and money on the well-being of your grandchildren. Unfortunately, no matter how much you love your grandchildren, circumstances can arise that impact your ability to spend time with them. Issues such as your child losing custody due to state intervention or a divorce could mean that you suddenly don’t have access to your grandchildren.
The parent with custody or the foster parents may not even let you speak with the children on the phone or via video chat. In a situation where you can’t visit or communicate with your grandchildren, you still have rights under Indiana law. Unlike many other states, Indiana has specific statutes in place that protect the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
So long as it benefits the children, the courts will likely back your claim to visitation
Grandparents are often an integral part of the extended tribe of people that helps young children grow into healthy, happy adults. Provided that you have an existing relationship with your grandchildren, it is almost certainly in their best interest to maintain that relationship, rather than to lose it.
The best interests of the children will always be the guiding factor for custody and visitation determinations in Indiana. If you can provide documentation of your relationship to the courts, ranging from pictures of you with your grandkids to receipts for money you have spent on items they need, they will typically at least allow visitation.
Even if the parent with custody is hostile to that visitation, they will need to comply with a court order or face legal ramifications. Unless there are complicating factors, like accusations of abuse, the courts will see a continued relationship as the best option for the children. However, you will need to file specific paperwork and argue your case before court, making the help of an attorney invaluable for grandparents seeking time with their grandchildren.
In some cases, you may have the right to pursue adoption
In a situation that involves your grandchildren getting removed from the custody of your child, you may be able to assume that parental role by seeking legal custody in the Indiana courts. Grandparents and other relatives with existing relationships to the children often receive preferential consideration when it comes time for foster placement.
Whether you hope to assume custody of your grandchildren or simply ask the courts to ensure your right to visitation, discussing your options with an experienced Indiana family law attorney is the best first step to take.