Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Kentucky?

Grandparents have a special relationship with their grandchildren. The Kentucky General Assembly recognized the importance of this relationship by codifying the right for Grandparents to seek visitation with their grandchildren in KRS 405.021 titled “Reasonable Visitation Rights to Grandparents.” The statute provides that Grandparents may petition the Circuit Court where the grandchild resides to request visitation rights.

However, this right is not immediate, and like most issues concerning child custody and visitation, the best interest of the child standard prevails. One may ask how is it not in the best interest of the child to not have a relationship with their grandparents who are ready and willing to provide their time and affection to the child, but Kentucky Courts have set forth specific standards to determine if granting visitation to a Grandparent is in the best interest of the child.

Grandparent holding child wondering about grandparents visitation rights in Kentucky

The factors relevant to determining whether grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest despite such visitation being against the parent’s wishes include:

  1. the nature and stability of the relationship between the child and the grandparent seeking visitation;
  2. the amount of time the grandparent and child spent together;
  3. the potential detriments and benefits to the child from granting visitation;
  4. the effect granting visitation would have on the child’s relationship with the parents;
  5. the physical and emotional health of all the adults involved, parents and grandparents alike;
  6. the stability of the child’s living and schooling arrangements;
  7. the wishes and preferences of the child; and
  8. the motivation of the adults participating in the grandparent visitation proceedings. Morton v. Tipton, 569 S.W.3d 388, 395 (Ky. 2019).

Therefore, if you are considering petitioning for rights as a grandparent, you must look not only how you plan to cultivate a relationship with your grandchild, but also your previous relationship with said child.

Lastly, grandparents who have lost their own child, who was a parent to their grandchild are afforded additional rights under the statute. In these cases, there is a rebuttable presumption that visitation with the grandchild is in the best interest of the grandchild as long as the grandparent can prove a pre-existing significant and viable relationship with the child.

A viable relationship specifically requires a showing of one of the following:

  • the grandchild resided with the grandparent for six consecutive months,
  • the grandparent was the caregiver of the grandchild on a regular basis for six months,
  • the grandparent had frequent or regular contact with the child for twelve months,
  • or there are facts that show that the loss of the relationship would cause the grandchild harm.

Alexandria Kerns is experienced in fighting for grandparent visitation rights in Kentucky. If you are interested in discussing your matter with Alexandria, call Gatlin Voelker to set up a consultation today.