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Visitation Rights for Grandparents, Step-Parents and Other Significant Persons Under Ohio Law

Ohio is a state that does grant grandparents and other close family and third party persons the right to visit with minor children under the appropriate circumstances. Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.051(B) states that the Court may award grandparents or other significant third parties “reasonable companionship or visitation rights” with minor children during divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment or Juvenile Court child custody proceedings. Such persons may also be granted visitation rights under Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.11 if the parent is deceased, or under Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.12 if the parents are unmarried. Under all of these circumstances the Court will assess whether granting the request is in the best interest of the child.

Normally, grandparents visit with their grandchildren by making arrangements with their son or daughter, or other family members or friends have developed valuable relationships with minor children. Sometimes grandparents and their adult children are alienated and the grandparents wish to establish their own visitation rights with their grandchildren, or the coordinating parent is unavailable and the family member or other third party wishes to continue to provide support and nurturing to the minor child. The law provides a list of 15 factors that the Court must use in assessing whether the visitation is in the child’s best interest. The same factors are used in determining parenting time matters. If a child is 11 or 12 years of age or older, the child’s wishes may be considered by the Court.

For an interested party to receive visitation, they must petition the Court to intervene as a third party to the Court action. Once a Motion to Intervene is granted a Motion to Establish Visitation Rights can be filed. The interested party must show that they enjoy an appropriate and healthy relationship with the minor child and that it is in the best interest of the child for the Court to promote that relationship by ordering a visitation schedule.

Grandparent or third party visitation schedules usually provide less time than visitation schedules provided for a parent. A typical grandparent or third party visitation schedule may be one or two days per month and visitation during important and significant holidays. Sometimes grandparents who live out of state are granted visitation for a period of weeks during the summer and can enjoy extended visitation with their grandchildren in the community or state in which they reside.

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In any divorce, the Ohio court considers the best interests of the children and it provides for their financial, educational, and emotional needs and may hand down temporary orders to provide for the children while the case is pending.
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