Grandparents' Rights in Kentucky

By Jennifer Susan

Grandparents in Kentucky have the right to request visitation or temporary or legal custody of their grandchildren. The decision to grant or deny such requests relies on the court after evaluating and determining the best interest of the child.

Visitation Rights

According to the article “Grandparents Rights; Grandparents Visitation Rights in the United States” published by Marriage and Family Encyclopedia, grandparents have the right to petition to visit their grandchildren. The government has an interest in keeping close relationships among grandparents and grandchildren to minimize the possibility of having children placed in the foster-care systems. The court determines whether the grandparents’ visitation is in the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the potential for conflict and the mental health of parents and grandparents.

As stated in “A Handbook for Kentucky Grandparents and other Relative Caregivers,” published by the Legal Aid Network of Kentucky, grandparents can obtain visitation rights even when the rights of the parent (the grandparents’ child) have been terminated unless it is in case of abandonment for five years or more.

De Facto Custodian

According to the article “Custodial Issues-Best Interest of Child Shall Determine-Joint Custody Permitted-De Facto Custodian,” published by the Kentucky Legislature, a de facto custodian is a person who has been the primary caregiver and provider for a child for a period of six months, if the child is under 3 years old, or a year, if the child is more than 3. A grandparent can be a de facto custodian of a grandchild if she fulfills those requirements. The de facto custodian can have a standing in court in a custody case. In order for a grandparent who is a de facto custodian to request legal custody of a grandchild, the grandparent needs to demonstrate that she stands in the place of the natural parent. A grandparent may not seek the right for legal custody of the child if the natural parent provided visitation and support, or placed the child temporarily under his care while working or studying.

Legal Custody

According to the Legal Aid Network of Kentucky, grandparents in the state have the right to request legal custody of a grandchild; in most cases, grandparents need to hire a lawyer to do so. Legal custody must be granted by a court taking into consideration the best interest of the child; the court evaluates the child’s wishes and acts of neglect or abuse among other factors in order to determine what is best for the child. Grandparents may be granted legal custody of a grandchild even in cases where parents do not consent, if the court determines it is beneficial for the child.

If grandparents get legal custody a grandchild, they have the obligation to support and educate that child; however, they may apply for programs such as Medicaid or request the parents to provide child support. Parents may visit their child, but they must go to court if they want to recover legal custody.

About the Author

Jennifer Susan has a master's in science in applied sociology and a bachelor's in psychology. Her first experience as a freelance writer was with Associated Content; but she found Demand Studios before she published any articles with them.