Grandparents Rights in Delaware

Delaware Grandparents’ Rights & Visitation

Oftentimes, and for many different reasons, grandparents may need to seek legal counsel regarding their rights to see their grandchildren. In addition, grandparents may also seek to obtain visitation, partial custody, and or primary custody of their grandchildren who are under the age of 18.

The state of Delaware acknowledges that grandparents have rights when it comes to their grandchildren, their relationships with their grandchildren, and what is best for the children. If you have minor grandchildren and have concerns regarding your rights to see them and be involved in their lives it makes sense to consult with a Delaware Grandparents Rights Lawyer.

Custody of your Grandchildren in Delaware

If you are looking to gain custody of your grandchild, Delaware law provides a channel for grandparents to legally obtain custody of their minor grandchildren. However, it is important to be aware that the court will always prioritize the interests of the biological parents.

In Delaware, grandparents may seek custody if the court removes the child from both parents’ care and adoption proceedings are not in play. To be eligible, they must also have had the child under their guardianship for a period of at least six months. As with any custody case, the court’s primary focus will be on what serves the child’s best interests and welfare.

The best chance of success for a custody application rests on proving that the child would either benefit from being in the care of a grandparent or is being abused, neglected, or otherwise not receiving proper care with the biological parent.

Custody of your Grandchildren in Delaware

For example, if both parents are deceased, the argument in favor of a grandparent obtaining custody is generally much easier to make. On the other hand, if only one parent has passed away, you may face difficulty if another relative, such as a grandparent from the deceased parent’s side, is vying for custody.

Ultimately, if you believe that the custodial arrangement proposed would offer a better life for the child, then fighting for custody is well worth it. Familiarize yourself with Delaware’s custody laws and use them to build a strong case so that your grandchild can find the loving home they deserve.

2 Types of Child Custody

In Delaware, there are two main types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody entitles parents to make important decisions on matters such as education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing of their children.

Physical custody pertains to where a child primarily lives. It involves the daily care and control of the child by a parent, such as feeding, disciplining, or bathing.

delaware child custody

Parents can have joint or sole custody in either category. Joint legal custody is generally preferred, as it allows both parents to actively participate in the child’s life.

When it comes to physical custody, however, joint arrangements work best when the parents reside close to one another to avoid transportation issues associated with extracurricular activities.

In cases of sole physical custody, the child typically only has visitation with the non-custodial parent.

Finally, both parents in all custody arrangements are entitled to receive information from each other regarding the child’s progress in school, medical treatments, religious events, and other significant developments.

Grandparents Rights Regarding Visitation And Custody

Having a grandmother and or grandfather who take an active role in a child’s life can do wonders for the emotional and mental well-being of that child while the life of the grandparent is also enriched. The state of Delaware realizes this and will typically allow a grandparent to petition for custody and or visitation rights in several circumstances:

  • If one or both of the parents are deceased;
  • If the parents were never married or did marry but are now separated for more than 6 months or are divorced;
  • If the grandchild(ren) lived with the grandparents for an extended period of time and was then removed from the home; and/or
  • If the grandparents were providing financial, educational and emotional support for the grandchild(ren).

If one or both of the parents of the grandchild(ren) is able to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child(ren) then it may be difficult for a grandparent to obtain custody of the child(ren).  However, if there is a documented history of drug use, alcohol abuse, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and/or neglect, a grandparent can seek primary custody under Delaware law.

Best Interest of the Child Standard in Delaware

In Delaware, the best interests of the child are typically considered based on the factors outlined in the Delaware Code, Title 13, § 722. This section provides guidance on custody determinations. Some key factors considered in Delaware include:

  1. Wishes of the Child: The wishes of the child, taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity.
  2. Mental and Physical Health of All Individuals Involved: The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including the parents.
  3. Any History of Domestic Violence: Any history of domestic violence or child abuse.
  4. Relationships with Parents and Others: The relationship of the child with each parent and any other individuals who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
  5. Stability and Continuity: The stability of the home environment and continuity for the child.
  6. Adequate Financial Support: The financial support provided by each parent.
  7. Educational Opportunities: The educational opportunities available to the child.
  8. Geographic Proximity of Parents: The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes.
  9. Demands of Parental Employment: The parents’ willingness and ability to meet the demands of parental employment.
  10. Age and Number of Children: The age and number of children.
custody Court process to expect
working with professionals for the best interest of your child

In order for a Delaware court to award custody to a grandparent, the presumption that the biological parents act in the best interest of the child must be overcome. This could include demonstrating that the child is likely to experience some sort of disadvantage if their custody was given to their parents. Understandably, this situation creates a disadvantage for the grandparents since their chances of winning full custody may be slim even if they have superior parenting abilities or better means of providing for the child.

Can a grandparent adopt after the loss of parental rights?

In Delaware, when a court terminates a parent’s rights, then a grandparent may have certain rights in a custody battle. Adoption is a permanent process and allows the grandparent to become the legal parent of the child. With this comes all the duties and responsibilities of a parent, including the right to pass on inheritances to their adoptive child.

There are certain conditions that must be met for a successful adoption in Delaware.

  • The grandparent must have had continuous possession of the child for at least one year.
  • There should be little chance of the birth parent taking up parental responsibility in the foreseeable future.
  • Children aged fourteen and above must also give written consent to the adoption
  • Both birth parents must terminate their parental rights.

Adoption is a demanding process, but it provides legal guardianship over your grandchildren. It also gives you the assurance that you can tend to them with full parental rights. If you think adoption is the right choice for your family, it is recommended that you consult an attorney so they can advise you further on the steps to take.

FAQs About Grandparents Right in Delaware

What to do when you can’t see your grandchildren?

If you cannot see your grandchildren, it is important to be aware of the visitation laws in your state. Depending on the state, grandparents may have a legal right to contact or visit their grandchildren. Additionally, you may have the right to petition for custody or visitation rights in certain circumstances. It is recommended that you reach out to an experienced family lawyer to learn about your specific rights.

Do grandparents have visitation rights in Delaware?

Grandparents in Delaware may have visitation and/or custody rights in certain situations. Grandparent visitation is available when court proceedings involve the parental status of the child’s natural parent(s), or when both parents are deceased. Additionally, grandparents involved in adoption proceedings can seek visitation rights as well.

Do you have to let your parents see their grandchildren?

In most cases, the answer is yes. According to prevailing U.S. law, if both parents agree, they must allow reasonable visitation rights to grandparents unless there is evidence of harm to the children from doing so. Parents must also adhere to any existing court orders when it comes to visitation rights for grandparents.

When grandparents are too involved?

Grandparents should not overstep their boundaries and interfere with the way the parents raise their children. Under normal circumstances, grandparents should respect the decisions made by the parents regarding their children’s upbringing. However, if there is evidence of neglect or abuse, a grandparent has the right to get involved and take appropriate action.

Can grandparents sue for visitation in Delaware?

Yes, under certain circumstances, Delaware law allows for grandparents to sue for visitation rights in family court. For example, if one parent denies the other parent (or grandparent) access to the child, then a court order can be sought granting visitation rights.

What is interference with child custody in Delaware?

Interference with Child Custody is defined under Delaware State Law as any action taken by an individual resulting in the deprivation of another’s custodial responsibility or custody of a minor child without lawful justification. Under this law, some judges may grant visitation rights to a grandparent who was previously denied access by another party.

What are the civil rights of grandparents?

The civil rights of grandparents vary from state to state. Generally speaking, these civil rights involve the right of access or visitation with grandchildren as well as the right to petition for custody of a grandchild under certain circumstances.

Do courts award visitation rights to grandparents?

Depending on the jurisdiction, courts can award grandparents visitation rights if certain criteria are met, such as if both parents consent or if one parent is deceased and unable to give consent. Additionally, courts may award visitation rights if there is evidence that denial of contact between a grandparent and grandchild would cause emotional harm.

What is grandparent alienation in the United States?

Grandparent alienation occurs when a parent attempts to hinder or prevent a relationship between a grandparent and grandchild through manipulation and/or hostility towards the grandparent by limiting communication or access between them. While this issue is more likely to occur in heights of custody disputes, it unfortunately affects all family members, including children who lose out on the opportunity for meaningful relationships with their extended family members.

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