Grandparent and Third Party Visitation
Grandparent and third-party visitation became a hot topic in Louisiana after the famous Supreme Court Decision Toxel v. Granville swept the nation. In Louisiana, grandparent custody rights differ from other family members. One key difference is Louisiana parents have the option to voluntarily transfer their parental rights to grandparents via Voluntary Transfer of Custody. However, there are other ways for grandparents to gain custody absent a voluntary transfer of custody from the custodial parent.
Following the Troxel v. Granville decision, “fit” parents are presumed to act in the best interest of the child. In Louisiana, grandparents and third parties such as siblings may petition to obtain custody and/or visitation against the will of the natural parent if the presumption is overcome.
Circumstances for Grandparent Visitation
- If one of the parties to a marriage dies, is interdicted, or incarcerated, and there is a minor child or children of such marriage,
- The parents of the deceased, interdicted, or incarcerated party without custody of such minor child or children may have reasonable visitation rights to the child or children of the marriage during their minority, and
- The court finds that visitation would be in the best interest of the child.
Circumstances where the Standard may be met for Custody
- Absent, voluntary disposal of custody by a parent, grandparent/third party must file suit against parent for custody.
- Requirement of proof that parental custody will cause substantial harm to the child.
- Substantial harm includes: abuse, violence, parental neglect, and abandonment.
- Grandparent/Third Party is otherwise able to provide a more adequate and stable environment.
What about an alternative? Are parents off the hook? Life After a Custody Battle
If a grandparent or third party is awarded legal custody the parents still retain certain rights and obligations. Parents have the right to visit their child and must financially support the child. However, if the grandparent wishes to terminate all of these rights, adoption, which differs from legal custody, may the alternative option
Written by: Derriyell Roberts, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, 3L