The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be a strong and unique family bond and a source of love and support for children outside their immediate family. A grandparent is a link to their family history and can be someone for grandchildren to go to when they feel they cannot talk to their parents.
But sometimes a child’s parent decides not to allow contact between the child and one or more of their grandparents. That parental decision may or may not be in the child’s best interests, depending on the circumstances.
What does Nebraska law say?
Under Nebraska law, a grandparent who wants the right to visitation with a grandchild may file a petition in state court asking for a visitation order. The grandparent must serve a copy of the petition for visitation on each of the grandchild’s parents and on anyone else with custody of the grandchild.
This option is available in any one of three situations:
- One or both of the child’s parents have died.
- The parents are divorced, or a divorce petition is pending in court.
- The parents have never married but paternity is legally established.
How do proceedings work?
In a grandparent visitation proceeding, the parties present affidavits to the court containing their allegations. The statute provides that “clear and convincing” evidence supports three required standards for the judge to grant reasonable visitation rights to a grandparent:
- A “significant beneficial relationship” is or has existed between the grandparent and grandchild.
- It is in the child’s best interests that the relationship continues.
- Grandparent visitation would not “adversely interfere” with the child’s relationship with their parents.
In addition, the petition must allege that the grandparent and parents have tried but are unable to “reconcile their differences” and that seeking court relief is the only option.