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When can Ohio grandparents seek visitation with grandchildren?

When it comes to visitation, Ohio state law extends limited rights to grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren. For example, if your child and his/her spouse have denied you access to your grandchildren because of a strained relationship between you, that is not sufficient grounds on which to petition the court for visitation with your grandchildren. 

According to the Legislative Service Commission, there are only three conditions under which Ohio law authorizes granting companionship or visitation rights to grandparents:

  • When an unmarried woman gives birth to a child
  • When married parents separate or dissolve the marriage
  • When one of the parents dies

If at least one of these circumstances applies, then you can petition the court for visitation of your grandchildren. When deciding whether or not to grant visitation rights, there are a number of factors that the court must take into consideration. Among these are the children's wishes and those of their parents, the children's ages, prior interaction between you and the children, availability of children and parents, physical and mental health of all parties and the children's safety and wellbeing. 

Adoption presents a unique situation. Generally speaking, if the adoption decree terminates the legal relationship between your grandchildren and their biological parents, it will also terminate your third-party rights as grandparents at the same time. If a stepparent adopts your children, as long as your son's or daughter's legal relationship to the children remains unchanged, it will not affect your visitation rights. However, there is an exception when the adoption occurs after the death of a parent, in which case you should retain your visitation rights.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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