Grandparent and Third-Party Visitation
In order for a person who is not the parent of a child to be granted visitation with a child in a situation where the parents have been married, they must meet three requirements:
1. The parents must have been married to each other and are either divorced or a divorce is pending before the court;
2. The person petitioning the court must fall into any of the following categories to have standing, or the right, to petition the court: a grandparent, a great grandparent, a stepparent or person who has maintained a relationship with the child similar to a parent-child relationship and
3. Once it is determined that the person petitioning the court has standing, the party must then show that the visitation is in the best interest of the child, which is shown through a number of statutory factors.
The standard is somewhat different in paternity cases. Grandparents may petition for visitation in paternity cases when the parents of the child have not married each other and the child has not been adopted. The grandparent must have also maintained a relationship with the child or attempted to maintain a relationship with the child. Grandparents under this section must show not only that visitation is in the best interests of the child but that they are not likely to act in a manner contrary to the decisions made by the child's legal custodian. In the case where one parent is deceased, grandparents and stepparents may petition for visitation when the child is in the custody of a surviving parent or other person. The standard here requires only that the visitation is in the best interest of the child specifically considering the child's wishes.