Courts grant visitation or custody to grandparents only when certain conditions provided in state statutes are met. Conditions for a grandparent to attain custody differ from those conditions required for visitation rights. A grandparent should be familiar with the conditions for either custody or visitation before determining whether to file a petition to request either from a court of law.
Best Interests of the Child
Courts in every jurisdiction must consider the "best interest of the child" when granting custody or visitation rights to a grandparent. In some states, the relevant statute provides a list of factors the court should considered when determining a child’s best interests. Other states do not provide factors in the statute, but courts in those states typically identify factors in custody and visitation cases interpreting the state statutes.
The following factors in determining the best interest of the child are among those included in state statutes and case law: