In cases where the family relationship is still intact, i.e., the parents are not divorced, there are a different set of standards altogether that will be applied by the court. This would relate to cases where one parent has died and the other does not wish to allow visitation, or both parents, still living, object to the visitation. In these circumstances, the grandparents must go through a two-step process. First, the grandparents must prove their entitlement by demonstrating there was a meaningful relationship with the child(ren) before the change in the family structure. Should the court find this acceptable, the grandparents must then demonstrate to the court that such visitation against the wishes of the surviving spouse is in fact in the overall best interests of the child(ren) in question.
Not surprisingly, the court is often hesitant to grant visitation against the wishes of an intact family. Both judges and mental health professionals have stated in such cases, should the court grant the grandparents’ request, there is the possibility that the child(ren) could lose faith in the overall stability and security of the family structure. In this instance, the positive aspects of a continuing relationship would not be enough to warrant a court order which could bring potential harm to the child(ren).