If your grandchildren are being denied from you, you may be able to enforce a legal visitation agreement.
However, grandparents may only retain the right to visit their grandchildren in Oklahoma under certain conditions. Read on to learn about your options.
When will a grandparent be denied visitation privileges?
Unlike some other states, Oklahoma does not allow a grandparent the right to visit his or her grandchild if the grandchild's parents both refuse the request and the parents are the married mother and father of the child. The law specifically defines this circumstance as an "intact nuclear family."
Oklahoma law also specifies that a grandparent's visitation privileges should be secondary to the custodial parent's rights and the overall parent-child relationship.
Other reasons a grandparent may be denied visitation rights include any history of abuse, chemical dependency and emotional or mental illness.
When can a grandparent seek visitation privileges?
Grandparents may seek visitation rights to minor grandchildren if:
- The district court decides it is in the best interest of the child
- There is evidence demonstrating parental unfitness that could result in harm of the child if not for the visitation rights of the grandparent and child
- The "intact nuclear family" has been disrupted
An "intact nuclear family" is disrupted if:
- The parent's marriage is being (or has already been) legally separated, divorced or annulled and the grandparent already had a relationship with the grandchild prior
- The grandparent's child (one of the parents) is deceased and the grandparent had a relationship with the grandchild before the death or the grandparent's child passed due to childbirth complications
- Neither parent of the grandchild has custody of him or her
- One of the grandchild's parents has had a felony conviction and was incarcerated in the Department of Corrections and the grandparent had a relationship with the child prior to the conviction
- One parent has abandoned the other for over a year and the grandparent has a continuous relationship with the grandchild
- The grandchild's parents were never married, do not cohabitate and the grandparent has a continuous relationship with the grandchild
- One or both parents have had their parental rights terminated
What happens if a parent interferes with the visitation agreement?
If established visitation rights of a grandparent have been unreasonably denied or interfered with by a parent, the court can:
- Provide a specific visitation schedule
- Compensate the grandparent for lost visitation time
- Post a bond conditioned upon compliance with the grandparent's visitation rights
- Provide for attorney fees, mediation costs, and court costs spent to enforce visitation rights
The specifics surrounding your unique circumstances can make a big impact on your ability to secure visitation rights to your grandchildren. Because these circumstances are often complicated, the best way to learn about your legal options is to seek the counsel of an Oklahoma Family Law attorney.