What is the Law on Grandparent’s Rights?
The term “Grandparent’s Rights” is a bit of a misnomer under Nevada law’s statutory structure. In reality, Nevada law does not specify any particular “right” a grandparent has simply by virtue of a biological relationship to a grandchild. While grandparents do have the ability to pursue custodial time or placement of a grandchild with them, their ability to do so is restricted as described below.
Nevada allows for grandparents to apply for visitation rights under very limited circumstances. The conditions under which a grandparent may seek visitation are set out in detail under NRS 125C.050. If your adult son or daughter:
(a) Is deceased;
(b) Is divorced or separated from the parent who has custody of the child;
(c) Has never been legally married to the other parent of the child, but cohabitated with the other parent and is deceased or is separated from the other parent; or
(d) Has relinquished his or her parental rights or his or her parental rights have been terminated,
then the Court may grant you a right of visitation with your grandchildren. The court will only do so if it determines that the parent has unreasonably denied or restricted contact between you and your grandchild. In deciding whether to give you visitation, the Court will presume that the custodial parent is acting in the child’s best interest by not allowing it.
This presumption puts a significant burden on you to prove by clear and convincing evidence (think 80% sure) that contact between you and your grandchild is in the child’s best interest.
In evaluating whether you have overcome this presumption, the Court considers your relationship with the child, your capacity to care for the child, your ability to cooperate with the parent to see that the child’s needs are met, and any other factor the Court believes relevant as to the child’s best interest. If the Court finds that you have proven by clear and convincing evidence that contact between you and your grandchild is in the child’s best interest, then the Court will grant a limited right of visitation.
Keep in mind that if either parent of your grandchild allows you reasonable contact with the child, the Court will not order any specific visitation schedule. As long as a parent voluntarily provide you with “reasonable contact” you are not eligible for a visitation order under NRS 125C.050.
Also, remember that the visitation provided for under NRS 125C.050 is substantially different than if you were to pursue guardianship or custody of a grandchild because of a parent’s unfitness, or if you were to pursue temporary placement of a grandchild due to the involvement of Child Protective Services. In those actions, grandparents are afforded special standing to by virtue of their biological relationship, but that relationship alone does not mean a grandparent will prevail. The statutory rules the court must follow vary in each case type, but the overarching standard for all determinations involving the custody of a child is the child’s best interest.
If you are a grandparent and are considering pursuing custody, guardianship, visitation or placement of a grandchild with you, please give our helpful and experienced family lawyers a call to discuss the specific facts of your case.