The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is a very strong one-they can enjoy their grandchildren and provide them with the love and attention that perhaps they were unable to shower on their own children. Each generation plays an important role in the other's well-being-children help their elders stay young and grandparents provide support and a strong foundation. When the child's parents are going through a divorce, this bond also ends up being affected, much to the dismay of grandparents.
Like the majority of other states in the country, grandparent's rights in Louisiana are limited as the parents are considered the best parties to make important decisions about their children's welfare. But this does not mean that grandparents have to sit by silently while their grandchildren are being abused or neglected.
With regards to visitation, grandparents have the right to file a suit in court and ask for visitation rights if the divorce petition is pending between the parents, if they can demonstrate that certain extraordinary circumstances exist to warrant visitation. The court will consider a number of factors such as the length and quality of their relationship, age and mental health of the grandparents and the wishes of the parties involved. Visitation can also be asked for if the couple is not going through a divorce but they lived together, or if one parent has died or is in prison, or if the state has placed the child in foster care because of parental abuse or neglect.
Similarly, grandparents can also ask for custody of the grandchildren if parents are abusing the child or the state has taken custody of the children because of abuse or neglect. Courts prefer placing children with relatives rather than strangers if there is a case of abuse. It is difficult to obtain child custody while the divorce is pending between the parents though if the circumstances mentioned above do not exist-the grandparents must prove that if the parents retain custody of their children, it would substantially harm the child.
Though difficult to overcome, it is not impossible for grandparents to get custody or get visitation of the child. At the end of the day, the court will also want to take actions that are in the child's best interests and grandparents should be prepared to show that they can fulfill those interests. It may be beneficial to get help from an experienced attorney.