Do grandparents have visiting rights in Maryland? When can I request a visitation ordered by the court with my grandchildren? In Maryland, grandparents have the right to request an appropriate visit from their grandchildren at any time. What do I have to prove in court? The grandparent who asks for a visit has the “burden of proof” (duty to provide sufficient evidence) to show that the proposed time is in the best interests of the child, taking health, safety and wellbeing into account. The judges automatically assume that the parents act in the best interests of their children and attach great importance to their preferences about who can spend time with their children.
If your grandson’s parents object to your visits, you must overcome this “presumption” (legal assumption). First of all, you have to prove that the parent is “not fit” (cannot make informed parenting decisions) and / or that the child would be harmed without the time specified by the court. The alleged damage must be substantial and specific, e.g. Abuse, neglect, or the risk of emotional damage if the child cannot see you. If you successfully overcome the presumption in favor of the parents’ preference, you must demonstrate that regular contact with you is in the best interests of the child, based on evidence relating to the child’s well-being.
Can I apply for custody of my grandchild? Maryland Courts automatically assume that custody of birth parents is in the best interest of a child unless sufficient evidence warrants otherwise. Any non-parent can apply for custody by demonstrating that living with the parents would harm the child based on: the child’s time away from birth parents the age of the child at which the non-parent entered as the primary caregiver the amount of time the biological parents have been waiting to restore a parent role the risk of emotional harm to the child if the custody agreement is changed the relationship of the child to the non-parent and the connection to the current life situation. The sincerity of parents’ interest in regaining custody and the safety and stability of the child at home. If a court determines that the child is at serious risk to the parent, the child is placed with the non-parent if a judge determines that this is in the child’s best interests.
Will my visitation rights expire if my grandson is adopted? If your grandchild is adopted by someone other than a step parent after the death of a parent, your grandparent visiting rights will be terminated and transferred to the adoptive grandparents unless the adoptive parents agree to the proposed date.
How do I start the process? The first step is to file a “petition” (formal written request) with the court that will issue custody and visitation instructions for your grandchild and notify everyone involved. In your petition, describe your proposed schedule of judicial visits. If you already have a visiting order but want more time or the child’s parents intervene, you can ask the court to “change” or enforce the order. If you have any questions about your right to spend time with your grandchild, you should contact an experienced local family law attorney who can help you manage this process.