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Missouri grandparents can seek visitation rights

Grandparents sometimes face a loss of visitation rights with grandchildren following a divorce if the grandparents' child is the non-custodial parent. However, in recent years, the law has expanded with regard to visitation rights for grandparents throughout the country, including Missouri.

With those issues in mind, our readers in St. Charles may take interest in a recent ruling in a New Jersey appellate court. The court said that a Brazilian grandmother should get a chance to prove that it would harm her 12-year-old grandson to terminate his relationship with her. In this case, the Brazilian-born mother took the son, then four years old, to Brazil on a vacation and did not return to the United States. Instead, she obtained a divorce and remarried.

The biological father of the child sought to have his son returned to the United States, but that initial attempt was unsuccessful. After the mother died in 2008, the boy's step-father was then granted custody in Brazil.

However, a Brazilian judge sided in favor the child's biological father in 2009, and he was granted custody at that time. Since then, the grandmother has sought visitation, which the father and the lower court denied. The father stated he would allow visitation if the grandmother stops all litigation for custody in Brazil, but the appellate court in New Jersey said that requirement was "unduly onerous."

In Missouri, the law states that courts can grant grandparents visitation rights under the following circumstances:

  • The parents are seeking a marriage dissolution or were divorced previously
  • One of the child's parents has died
  • The child lived for at least six months in the grandparents' home during the last two years
  • Or the grandparent has been denied reasonable visitation during the last three months

The court will also look at whether it is in the best interests of the child to have visitation with a grandparent. Missouri has special laws tailored to address these parenting and custody issues, which are often emotionally charged. A family should not face these issues alone.

Source: nj.com, "Brazilian grandmother should be allowed hearing for visitation with N.J. grandson, appellate court rules," July 11, 2012

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