I am the child's grandparent. Can I file for visitation?
A grandparent can only file a petition for visitation 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; or
- 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
The petition would be filed in the circuit court in the county where:
- the grandchild lives; or
- there's already a pending custody, divorce, or other court proceeding related to the grandchild.1
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 the grandparent can prove there is a “good cause” to file more than once during that period.3
Note: If the judge does grant visitation rights to a grandparent, the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, can file a petition in court to end (revoke) or amend the visitation rights only f 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
3 Alabama Code § 30-3-4.2(g)