New Hampshire Grandparents Rights Laws
When most people think of child visitation, they think of divorced or separated parents agreeing to see their child or children on an agreed upon schedule. However, child visitation can also pertain to grandparents. In the state of New Hampshire, grandparents are given certain rights that allow them to have access to their grandchildren. In fact, even if a parent does not want visitation, grandparents may still be able to enforce their rights with the aid of a family law attorney.
According to RSA 461-A:13, grandparents may petition the court for their right to visit with their minor grandchildren. This includes adoptive or natural grandparents. The law also states that a grandparent filing for visitation of a grandchild with unwed parents must first prove the legitimacy of the parent. In other words, the grandchild must biologically or through adoption be the child of the grandparents' offspring.
Laws pertaining to grandparents' rights are designed so that children may have a relationship with their grandparents. If a grandparent has previously been restricted from seeing their grandchild or grandchildren for any reason, this will overrule any petition for visitation. In addition, 461-A:13 VI states that "Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to affect the rights of a child or natural parent or guardian…or adoptive parent”.
Determining Grandparent Visitation in New Hampshire
In order for grandparents to seek visitation, a nuclear family must not exist. This means that the parents of the grandchild must have been separated by divorce, death, termination of parental rights or some other reason. Basically, only two married parents are allowed to bar grandparents from seeing their grandkids. In addition to this, the court will also look at certain criteria before they make their decision whether or not to grant visitation to a grandparent. According to New Hampshire law, this includes the following factors:
- Whether grandparent visitation would be in the best interest of the child
- If grandparent visitation would affect the parent's relationship with their child or their authority over the child
- What the relationship between the grandparent and child is including how often they are in contact and whether the child has ever lived with the grandparent(s).
- The court will also look at whether it would be emotionally or physically harmful or beneficial to the child if they were allowed contact with their grandparent(s).
- The relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild's parent including whether any friction between the two would have an effect on the child
- The circumstances for the dissolution of the nuclear family whether it was divorce, death etc.
- Any recommendations for visitation made by the guardian ad litem that was appointed to the child
- Any other relevant factors that the court deems appropriate
- If the child is mature enough to express their wishes, this will be considered as well
In all cases involving grandparent visitation rights, the court may order the parties to undergo mediation. If this is the case, RSA 461-A:7 III states that:
If the parties are ordered to participate in mediation under this section, all issues relevant to their case, including but not limited to child support and issues relative to property settlement and alimony under RSA 458, shall also be mediated unless the court orders otherwise.
Family Law Attorney in New Hampshire
If you are grandparent thinking about petitioning for visitation rights for your grandchild, a New Hampshire family law attorney can help. Petitioning for visitation can seem overwhelming, but with the assistance of an experienced and compassionate attorney, it can be made a lot simpler. Call us now to get started.