July 26, 2010 § 4 Comments

[This outline is based in part on the 15th Chancery Court District Newsletter published by Chancellor Ed Patten]

Who is entitled to grandparent visitation?

Category One:  Grandparents who have a change in status.  § 93-16-3 (1), MCA.

— Child of the grandparents lost custody of the grandchild to the grandchild’s other parent, or

— Child of grandparents had parental rights terminated, or

— Child of grandparents is deceased.

Category Two:  Grandparents who are not in Category One and have a “viable relationship.”  § 93-16-3 (2), MCA.

— If grandparent had established a “viable relationship” with grandchild and grandchild’s parent or custodian hs unreasonably denied visitation with the grandchild, and

— Visitation rights will serve the grandchild’s best interest.   

A “viable relationship” is where the grandparent has supported the grandchild in whole or in part for not less than six months prior to the filing of the petition, or the grandparent had frequent visitation for one year prior to the filing of the petition. 

In order to determine whether visitation rights will serve the child’s best interest, and the extent of the visitation that should be ordered, the court must address the factors set out in Martin v. Coop, 693 So.2d 912, 916 (Miss. 1997), which are set out here.

Grandparent visitation is not available to grandparents of children given over for adoption, unless one legal parent is also a biological parent, or unless one adopting parent was related to the child by blood or marriage prior to the adoption.  § 93-16-7, MCA.

Visitation is available to persons who become grandparetnts by virtue of adoption.  § 93-16-7, MCA. 

Siblings and other third parties have no common law or statutory right to visitation.  Scruggs v. Satterfiel, 693 So.2d 924, 926 (Miss. 1997).

Venue is in the county where a child custody order was previously entered, or in the county where the child resides, if no custody order has been previously entered.  § 93-16-3 (4), MCA.

Summons and service of process is had on the custodial parent(s), pursuant to Rule 81, MRCP.

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