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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.