Legal Information: Alabama


June 12, 2018

I am the child's grandparent. Can I file for visitation?

A grandparent can file a petition for visitation in circuit court in the county where the grandchild lives or in any other court where there's already a custody, divorce, or other proceeding related to the grandchild if any of the following circumstances exist:  

  • an action for a divorce or legal separation of the parents has been filed or finalized;
  • the parents' marriage ended when one parent died;  
  • the child was born out of wedlock and the petitioner is the mother’s parent (maternal grandparent of the child); or
  • the child was born out of wedlock and the petitioner is the father’s parent (paternal grandparent of the child) and the father’s paternity has been legally established;
  • an action to terminate the parental rights of one or both parents has been filed or the parental rights of a parent have already been terminated by court order.  However, if the Department of Human Resources was the petitioner in the petition to terminate the parental rights, the grandparents related to the parent whose rights were terminated cannot get visitation rights.1 

Note: If the child is adopted, an eligible grandparent may still be able to seek visitation only if the adoptive parent is the child’s step-parent, grandparent, sibling, half-sibling, aunt or uncle.  If the child is/was part of an adoption proceeding, the visitation petition is filed in probate court, not circuit court.2

Any grandparent (or any set of married grandparents) can petition for visitation only once during any two-year period unless s/he can prove “good cause” to file more than once.  After visitation rights have been granted to any grandparent, the legal custodian, guardian, or parent of the can to petition the court for to revoke (end) or amend the visitation rights if there has been a material change in circumstances since the grandparent visitation order was made.3  For information on how a judge will make the decision about whether or not to give visitation to a grandparent, go to What factors will a judge consider when deciding if a grandparent can get visitation?

1 Alabama Code § 30-3-4.2(b),(i)(3)
2 Alabama Code §§ 30-3-4.2(b),(i)(1); 26-10A-30
21 Alabama Code § 30-3-4.2(g)