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What are the visitation rights of grandparents in Maryland?

Families take many forms and undergo many changes throughout the course of a child's life. This in turn may lead to conflict among the child's parents and extended family members. One area that has garnered attention here in Maryland and elsewhere involves the rights of grandparents in connection to visitation. What are the current laws in relation to this matter?

Since 1993, the current Maryland statutes regarding the rights of grandparents allows a court to consider a petition for visiting rights and then issue an order granting the right if the child would benefit from such visits. However, it may be difficult for a grandparent to successfully petition for these visits over strong objections of the child's guardians. The grandparents would be required to provide proof that the child's parents are unfit or show otherwise good cause for granting a petition.

In addition, if the child's guardians have already made provisions for the grandparent to visit with the child, then the court would be unlikely to grant any orders requiring an expanded visitation schedule unless, once again, the parents were shown to be unfit or that refusal of such rights would be harmful to the minor. There have been previous cases where a court awarded extended visitation schedules that were later overturned on the grounds that it violated the constitutional rights of the custodial parent. In the end, a family court judge will take the best interest of the child into consideration whenever a grandparent seeks either visitation or an expanded visitation schedule.

In most situations, as long as a custodial parent has granted some time with the child, a court will  not intervene. Furthermore, a court would require proof that a child would be detrimentally affected by lack of contact with the grandparent as long as there was no denial of visitation in any context. If you reside in Maryland and are having difficulty obtaining access to your grandchild, or conversely, you are the parent being pressured for greater visitation, professional assistance is available that may help you in realizing the best remedy for your particular family's circumstances.

Source: peoples-law.org, "Grandparent Visitation Rights", Oct. 24, 2014

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