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Understanding grandparent rights in Alabama

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Child Custody, Divorce |

Grandparents are a delightful force in the family. While they can be all fun and games, they can also play an integral role in raising their grandkid. But when the kid has divorcing parents, grandparents often wonder where their custody and visitation rights stand.

In Alabama, grandparents can seek primary custody and visitation on several conditions. Such thorough considerations exist because courts often favor biological parents and assume everything they do is in the child’s best interests. Unless proven otherwise with compelling reasons, the judge leans on having both parents responsible for child-rearing.

Thus, grandparents must strongly prove that denying them custody may considerably harm their grandkid or not serve their best interests.

On winning primary custody

For an Alabama court to grant them primary custody, grandparents must strategize with their counsel when best to start the filing process. They must adequately establish the parent being “unfit” on several grounds:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Crime conviction
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Diagnosis of a severe physical or mental illness

Any of these factors indicate that the child may have a more stable and secure environment with a “fit” grandparent. In the spirit of fairness, the judge must also check if the grandparent can indeed provide for their grandchild by investigating concerns, like their overall health, sources of income and logistical conveniences.

On petitioning for visitation

In contentious cases, some parents deny grandparents the chance to spend quality time with their grandchild. Thus, the grandparent’s petition heavily relies on the best interests standard or if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • One or both parents’ death
  • Child born out of wedlock
  • Child abandoned by their parents

The court always considers relevant factors before deciding. The grandparent’s chances for visitation are looking good if they have been the child’s primary caregiver for so long, compared with barely having a relationship with them.

Further, custody and visitation are purely case-to-case basis. One grandparent from the mother’s side may have custody, while the court may only grant visitation time to another grandparent from the father’s side.

A lifetime bond

A strong grandparent-grandchild bond can withstand the test of divorce. The ideal scenario is for parents and grandparents to work together to create a safe space for the child. But when disputes are inevitable, it will help to address the issues with a legal representative to protect the child’s well-being and future.