Divorce or separation of parents can be difficult for the extended family. Grandparents who are denied visitation with their grandchildren after a divorce also can suffer a great deal, and most states now allow grandparents to seek a court order for visitation rights. Mississippi has statutory provisions outlining the procedures for doing this.
Some grandparents are authorized to file a petition for visitation in the family law court that made the original custody order. This applies when the child of the grandparents was not awarded custody and when the child of the grandparents has had his parental rights terminated. Grandparents whose child has died must file their petition in the chancery court where the grandchild resides.
All other grandparents must file a petition for visitation in the chancery court where the grandchild resides and must prove that they have a viable relationship with the grandchild and that visitation with the grandparents would be in the best interest of the grandchild. A viable relationship means that the grandparent has financially supported the grandchild and custodial parent, at least in part, for a minimum of six months or that the grandparent has had an ongoing relationship with the grandchild, including visits and occasional overnight stays, for at least a year.
Best Interests of Child
In determining the best interests of the grandchild, the court can consider any factor that might affect the grandchild's care and safety, such as the grandparents' moral fitness, lifestyle, physical ability to care for the grandchild, use of alcohol or drugs, the state of the grandparents' home, how old the grandchild is, and how far the grandchild would need to go to visit with the grandparents.