Often a by-product of a failed relationship or marriage is the collateral damage felt by the grandparents and their inability to have consistent or regular visitation with their grandchildren. In Nebraska, the Court has taken on the common definition for “grandparent” and has defined it as the biological or adoptive parent of a minor child’s biological or adoptive parent. In the event child’s biological or adoptive parents have had their parental rights terminated, the rights of the grandparents also terminate because legally you are no longer considered a grandparent.
Rights regarding grandparent visitation are governed under Section 43-1802 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes. Currently, a grandparent can petition the District Court for visitation if:
1) The child’s parent or parents are deceased;
2) The marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved or petition for the dissolution of such marriage has been filed, is still pending, but no decree has been entered; or
3) The parents of the minor child have never been married but paternity has been legally established
If you are a grandparent and you fall within one of the above categories, you must prove to the court that a significant beneficial relationship exists, or existed in the past, and it is in the best interest of the child to continue that relationship. Finally, you must prove that such visitation will not adversely interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court may also modify an order granting or denying such visitation up on a show that that there has been a material change in circumstances which justifies such modification would serve in the best interests of the child.
Unfortunately for many people, the statute does not contemplate situations where the family unit still exists, but the parents have chosen not to allow the visitation by the grandparents and have not allowed for a beneficial relationship to be established.
Below are a few cases regarding grandparent visitation:
Beal v. Endsley, 3 Neb. 589, 529 N.W.2d 125 (1995) – The overriding and paramount consideration in determining grandparent visitation rights is the best interests of the children. The disruption to the lives of the grandchildren, including the distance of travel to exercise visitation rights, is clearly an appropriate consideration in the award of grandparent visitation privileges.
Raney v. Blecha, 258 Neb. 731, 605 N.W.2d 449 (2000) – Grandparents’ existing visitation rights are not automatically terminated by an adoption, but can be modified upon a showing of cause with the child’s best interests at issue.
Pier v. Boles, 257 Neb. 120, 596 N.W.2d 1 (1999) – The Court must find, “by clear and convincing evidence that there is, or has been, a significant beneficial relationship between the grandparent and the child, that it is in the best interests of the child that such relationship continue, and that such visitation will not adversely interfere with the parent-child relationship.”
Morris v. Corzatt, 255 Neb. 182, 583 N.W.2d 26 (1998) – The Statutory criteria for modification of a prior grandparent visitation order are different than the criteria for obtaining grandparent visitation initially. Grandparents’ efforts to undermine the relationship between a mother and her children do not serve the best interest of the children.
In re Interest of Dylan W., 8 Neb. App. 1039, 606 N.W.2d 847 (2000) – Juvenile Court is not the proper venue for a grandparent to petition for grandparent visitation under the grandparent visitation statute. It is within the juvenile court’s statutory jurisdiction to determine a motion for visitation asserted by a grandparent who has properly intervened.
If you are a grandparent and you fall into one of the above categories and wish to have visitation rights with your grandchildren, please contact Husker Law immediately so we can help you enforce your legal rights.