Few would likely deny that the norm for most Louisiana families is one that is cross-generational. Where there are children, there are parents. Where there are parents, there are grandparents. And there’s generally a presumption that everyone will be actively involved in each other’s lives.
That ideal isn’t always achieved. A lot of things can happen that can put up barriers to family involvement. If the parents divorce, a rift between custodial parent and a grandparent could surface. If one or the other of the parents dies or winds up becoming incarcerated, that could create friction. What are a grandparent’s rights around seeking visitation or custody in such situations?
Every situation is different and so consulting with an experienced attorney is always recommended. Making things a little more complicated is a U.S. Supreme Court decision a few years ago that found that one state’s statute was overbroad in allowing courts to override the rights of parents in deciding what is best for their children.
Here in Louisiana, three statutes address various, distinct circumstances in which grandparents might have legitimate cause to seek visitation or custody of grandchildren.
For example, Article 136 of the Civil Code covers visitation rights for individuals who may have a relationship with a child by blood or other kinship. This might include grandparents or even a step-grandparent. Factors the court considers in applying this law include how long a relationship between a petitioner and child has existed and what the quality of the relationship is; how the child would benefit; the child’s preference if appropriate; the physical and mental capabilities of child and grandparent; and whether the grandparent is willing to promote the parent-child relationship.
Revised Statute 9:344 seeks to cover grandparent-child relationships disrupted by breaks in the normal path — going through the parent. This might result if the grandparent’s child dies, is incarcerated or is declared incompetent for some reason. This law might also apply in several other extraordinary circumstances.
Under the state’s Children’s Code, Article 1264 makes clear that adoption of a child curbs grandparents’ rights. Visitation rights may be protected if the adoptee child’s deceased parent was the child of a grandparent or if the child’s parent has forfeited his or her right to object to the adoption.
If you have questions related to parent or grandparent rights, speak with a skilled lawyer.