Families with grandparents acting more parent-like than the child’s biological parents are not uncommon. This scenario drives grandparents to persistently assert custody rights of their grandchild.
But Arkansas courts do not automatically award custody simply because the grandparent disagrees with their grandchild’s upbringing. In fact, the judge often presumes that parents fulfill their parental obligations, unless proven otherwise.
While grandparents are generally at a disadvantage, the court ultimately upholds the child’s best interests. If either or both parents suffer from a criminal conviction, severe illness, substance abuse or death, the grandparent may have improved chances of winning custody.
However, they must still satisfy specific conditions for the court to consider granting them custody of their grandchild.
Grandparents’ custody rights
Grandparents may petition the court for custody if:
- Their grandchild lived with them for six consecutive months minimum before their first birthday, or for at least a year if their grandchild is already over a year old
- They were their grandchild’s primary caregiver, meaning they provided for their needs that include where they lived
- Their grandchild resided with them within the year the custody hearing began
Aside from meeting these requirements, the court may still exercise discretion on the final decision. They may consider other relevant factors to establish how viable the grandparent-grandchild relationship is and how it advocates for the child’s welfare.
Similarly, visitation rights depend on the significant relationship they have. After all, the court may not find it in the child’s best interests to spend quality time with their grandparents with whom they do not have consistent and frequent contact.
Grandparents’ unyielding spirit
Grandparents are a force unlike any other. Their extraordinary strength extends to fighting for their rights to keep their grandchild away from harm and provide them with a nurturing environment. They can work with their counsel in building a strong custody case to ensure the fair protection of their rights.