In Missouri, grandparents are allowed reasonable visitation rights if certain requirements are met. These requirements are set forth in a statute, specifically, V.A.M.S. § 452.402:
The Court may grant grandparent visitation when:
- The parents of the child have filed for a dissolution of marriage.
- One parent of the child is deceased and the surviving parent denies reasonable visitation rights; or
- A grandparent is unreasonably denied visitation with the child for a period exceeding ninety (90) days.
Furthermore, pursuant to the statute, grandparents have the right to “reasonable visitation,” regardless of the marital status of the parties. The Legislature has reinforced the rights of grandparents to have a meaningful relationship with their grandchildren by enacting laws allowing for grandparent visitation. Missouri family law permits a grandparent who has been denied visitation to submit a written request to the court asking that mediation be ordered for purposes of establishing grandparent visitation.
The court will only grant visitation to grandparents when there is a finding that such visitation will be in the best interest of the child. If it is found that the child’s best interest will not be served by the visitation, or that the visitation would endanger the child’s physical health or impair his emotional development, the visitation is denied. Like parental visitation, the court may order reasonable conditions or restrictions on grandparent visitation.
Unlike the noncustodial parent, grandparents do not have an automatic right to visitation. The court is given more discretion in establishing the parameters of grandparent visitation. Such visitation may be for a few hours every week or every other week or may include overnight or weekend visitation. Obviously, under the statute, the court can grant visitation rights to grandparents, but it is a grandparent’s burden to establish his or her rights.
If you are a grandparent who has questions about obtaining custody or visitation rights, you should contact an attorney to fully explain your rights and the procedure.