Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

Missouri child custody law permits grandparent visitation only in limited situations. There is no guaranteed right for a grandparent to have visitation with a grandchild. The court may grant reasonable visitation rights to grandparents under the following circumstances:

  • The parents of the child have filed for divorce. Grandparents have the right to intervene solely on the issue of visitation rights. Grandparents also have the right to file a motion to modify the original divorce decree to seek visitation rights;
  • One parent of the child is deceased and the surviving parent denies the grandparent reasonable visitation rights;
  • The child has resided in the grandparent’s home for at least 6 months within the 24-month period immediately preceding the filing of the petition for grandparent rights;
  • The grandparent has been unreasonably denied visitation with the child for more than 90 days, unless the natural parents are legally married to each other and are living together with the child. In that case, the grandparent may not file for visitation;
  • The child is adopted by a stepparent, another grandparent or other blood relative.

The court will grant grandparent visitation only if it is in the grandchild’s best interest. The court is required to determine whether visitation by the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest.