Written by attorney Ryan Hodge Cassman

Grandparent's Visitation Rights - Indiana Custody & Visitation Law

This is post addresses the scope of Grandparent's Visitation Rights in Indiana, and the standard to be applied by the court in determining Grandparent's Visitation Rights in Indiana. Without a court order a grandparent does not have a presumptive right to visitation with a grandchild. In other words, unless allowed by a parent, a grandparent can't demand certain times with a child. In Indiana, a grandparent may seek a visitation order with child only if (1) the child's parent is deceased; (2) the child's parents are divorced; or (3) the child was born out of wedlock, but only if the child's father has established paternity. I.C. § 31-17-5-1. A court may grant visitation if it determines that “visitation rights are in the best interests of the child." I.C. § 31-17-5-2 . When a court enters an order granting or denying grandparent visitation, it is required to set forth findings of fact and conclusions of law. McCune v. Frey, 783 N.E.2d 752, 757 (Ind.Ct.App.2003) And, in those findings and conclusions, the court must address: (1) the presumption that a fit parent acts in his or her child's best interests; (2) the special weight that must be given to a fit parent's decision to deny or limit visitation; (3) whether the grandparent has established that visitation is in the child's best interests; and (4) whether the parent has denied visitation or has simply limited visitation. In re Guardianship of J.E.M., 870 N.E.2d 517, 520 (Ind.Ct.App.2007). Finally, a grandparent cannot reasonably expect to receive a visitation order that gives them substantial time. The Indiana Supreme Court recently recognized that "that although the amount of visitation is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, “[t]he Grandparent Visitation Act contemplates only ‘occasional, temporary visitation’ that does not substantially infringe on a parent's fundamental right ‘to control the upbringing, education, and religious training of their children.’ "KI ex rel. JI v. JH, 903 NE 2d 453 (Ind.2009) UPDATE - there are presently bills before both house to alter GP's visitation law. Here is a link to the senate bill. Feel free to post your comments and concerns.

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