Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Connecticut?

Photo of Meghan Freed, Connecticut Divorce AttorneyIn some states, grandparents have an independent legal right to visitation with their grandchildren.  Read on to learn whether this the case in Connecticut.

What is the Status of Grandparents’ Legal Visitation Rights in Connecticut

Grandparents do not have a specific, independent, or automatic legal right to visitation with their grandchildren.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Grandparents — and others — have the right to seek visitation rights with a minor child.

When Do Grandparents (Or Other Non-Parents) Have Legal Visitation Rights with Children?

Connecticut courts will grant visitation with a child when the person seeking visitation with the child (whether a grandparent or another person) proves “by clear and convincing evidence” that:

  •  a “parent-like relationship” exists, and
  • not granting visitation would cause “real and significant harm” to the child.

What is a Parent-Like Relationship?

The Connecticut Statutes contain a list of factors the court may (not must) consider when determining whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between the grandparent (or other non-parent) and the child:

  • The existence and length of a relationship between the person and the minor child
  • The length of time that the relationship between the person and the minor child has been disrupted
  • The specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation toward the minor child
  • Any evidence that the person seeking visitation has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent
  • The significant absence of a parent from the life of a minor child
  • The death of one of the minor child’s parents
  • The physical separation of the parents of the minor child
  • The fitness of the person seeking visitation
  • The fitness of the custodial parents
  • Other factors the court find appropriate

Is There Anything Different for Grandparents?

Yes — there is actually one special factor added when courts are considering whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between a grandparent and a minor child:

  • The history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the minor child.

What is Real and Significant Harm?

Generally speaking, courts tend to find that when someone has a “parent-like relationship” with a child, it would cause “real and significant harm” if he or she were abruptly cut out of the child’s life.

Next Steps

Grandparent and other or non-parent visitation rights cases are legally and emotionally complicated and require a combination of substantial legal experience and attention to your specific goals.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

Written by Meghan Freed