Can Grandparents Sue for Visitation Rights in Missouri?

By law, grandparents in Missouri can sue for visitation rights, but only under certain conditions.

Grandparents in the U.S. have a right to visit their grandchild unless a court specifically prevents them from doing so. Sometimes, grandparents can get full custody of the child if the parents are unable to fulfill their responsibilities.

In some cases, grandparents may want to sue for visitation rights, have this right acknowledged by law, and prevent anything from interfering with it. These cases exist because grandparents’ rights are not constitutional, and some states do not have very elaborate legislation on the subject.

What Does Missouri Law Say?

By law, grandparents in Missouri can sue for visitation rights, but only under a few conditions:

  • If there is an order in place where it says the grandparents cannot visit the child, but the parents are getting a divorce, then the grandparents can sue to modify this order
  • If one parent is deceased and the other denies visitation rights
  • If the child lived with the grandparent for at least 6 out of 24 months before filing the petition for visitation rights
  • If the grandparent is denied visitation rights unreasonably – however, if the parents are married and the child is in their custody, this may lead to the petition being denied
  • If the child was adopted by another blood relative or stepparent

Even if the grandparent wants visitation rights and has a legal basis for filing the petition, the courts will ultimately take into consideration what’s best for the child when ruling on the request. In Missouri, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem who can conduct home studies or talk with the child to decide what the best course of action is.

Sometimes, the court may even suggest both parties to enter a mediation process to work out things before going forward with a trial. It is believed that mediation can be more helpful in these cases than a trial because both sides can share what they want and openly discuss it, as opposed to one side accusing the other.

It’s important to note that if the child is adopted (not by a blood relative of stepparent), then under Missouri law, all visitation rights are terminated. In these cases, a grandparent can visit their grandchild only if the adoptive family allows it.

What Can You Do to Visit Your Grandchild?

It can be challenging not to be able to see your grandchild, but unfortunately, grandparents can only ask for visitation rights under certain circumstances. The courts in Missouri believe the parents know what’s best for the child, so if the couple is still married and the child is living with them, grandparents cannot sue for visitation rights. Things are a bit different if the parents are in the middle of a divorce.

If you are in this situation, reach out to a St. Louis divorce attorney for advice to determine whether you have the right to sue for visitation rights, or what other options you may have.

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