In Indiana, the court can grant visitation rights to a grandparent if the court determines that visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild. However, not all grandparents are entitled to ask for grandparent visitation. A grandparent may ask the court for visitation rights with a grandchild ONLY if:
- The grandchild’s parent is dead;
- The marriage of the grandchild’s parents has been dissolved (in other words, they are divorced); or
- The child was born outside of marriage. (Note, however, that the paternal grandparents of a child born outside of marriage can ask for grandparent visitation ONLY if paternity has been established).
Thus, if the grandchild’s parents are both living and are still married to each other, the grandparent CANNOT ask the court for visitation with the grandchild. Also, if the child was born outside of a marriage and paternity has not been established for the child, the paternal grandparent CANNOT ask the court for visitation with the grandchild..
The court will consider any factors relating to the child, the parent, and the grandparent. Specifically, the court will consider whether the grandparent has had (or has tried to have) meaningful contact with the grandchild. The court will presume that a fit parent’s decisions are in the best interests of the child. Thus, the court will give special weight to the parent’s wishes and to whether the parent has allowed some visitation with the grandchild. The court will look first at the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent, but the court will also look at all of the circumstances, including the relationship between the grandparent and the parent.
The court strictly follows the Indiana law on grandparent visitation. The law gives the right to ask for this visitation only to grandparents, not great-grandparents. The law does not allow the court to order visitation for great-grandparents.
You can ask the court to order grandparent visitation if you want more visits. However, the court will probably not interfere with the parent's decision on how much visitation to give you. If you are already getting visits and the parents do not want to give you more, the court will probably not order more visits for you.
First, you should talk to the child's parent. It is better to work these things out without going to court. If you cannot reach an agreement with the child's parent and you think you are entitled to ask the court for visitation, you can file a petition in court.
Typically, you file in the county where the child lives. However, if there is a divorce between the child’s parents, you would file the petition for grandparent rights in the divorce case.