Generally speaking, grandparents in West Virginia have the right to visit their grandchildren. However, there may be an issue between you and one or both of the parents of your grandchildren that prevents you from seeing them. If this is the case, according to FindLaw, it is usually best to resolve such issues out of court if at all possible. In the event that you are not making any headway by talking things out with your grandchildren's parents face to face, it may be beneficial for all parties to engage in mediation by a qualified professional.
While it is advisable to pursue litigation only as a last resort, sometimes it is necessary to settle a particular dispute. If you must take the parents of your grandchildren to court in order to protect your rights as a grandparent, the court will rule according to the same guiding principle that applies in all family law cases that involve children: the best interests of the child.
Needless to say, the ideal situation would be for the parents to facilitate visitation between you and your grandchildren. However, if they refuse to do so, the court may grant you visitation rights if you can show that your grandchildren will benefit from a relationship with you. In order to do so, the court will take a number of factors into consideration:
- The length and strength of the relationship between you and your grandchildren
- The child's needs as it relates to safety and welfare, as well as emotional and physical health
- The geographical distance between your residence and that of your grandchildren
- The wishes of the children's parents, as well as your wishes
- The wishes of your grandchildren if old enough to make decisions for themselves
If either you or the children's parents have a history of substance abuse, neglect or abusive behavior towards children, the court will also take that into consideration.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.