If you are a grandparent in Oregon, state law in 2010 provides you certain rights if you are seeking either custody or visitation of your grandchildren. As such, following the appropriate procedures as laid out by law can help you in successfully gaining custody or visitation of your grandchildren.
Visitation and Custody Jurisdiction
Under Oregon's child visitation and custody laws, the rights of grandparent's fall under a heading of "rights of a person who establishes emotional ties creating child-parent relationship or ongoing personal relationship." While this broad banner of individuals who can be granted visitation rights or custody can apply to several family members, such as adult siblings or aunts and uncles, or even to non-relations, this section of Oregon's domestic relations law codifies the visitation rights of grandparents as well.
If the child for which a grandparent is seeking visitation or custody has been or is being placed in custody in a state agency or through foster care, or if guardianship proceedings are being conducted to appoint guardianship of the child, a grandparent must petition or file a motion for intervention in the court having jurisdiction over the child's case in order to be granted visitation or custody.
If no such proceedings are underway, and a grandparent is being denied visitation rights by their grandchild's parent or guardian, then they can petition the court of the county in which the child is living for temporary visitation rights or custody.
Criteria for Visitation
In any instance where a grandparent petitions an Oregon court for visitation with a child, the court, under law, automatically begins proceedings with the presumption that any parent denying a grandparent visitation has done so with the best interests of the child in mind. Therefore, a grandparent's primary objective in petitioning the court is to refute that presumption and demonstrate that visitation is in the best interest of the child.
Under Oregon law, the court petitioned can consider evidence that speaks to certain criteria in order to make a determination of whether visitation should be grated. Such submitted evidence can include documentation showing that the grandparent is, or has been recently, the child's primary caretaker; any evidence which shows that denial of visitation would have a detrimental impact on the child; evidence that the child's legal parent has fostered, encouraged or consented to a relationship between the grandparent and grandchild; evidence demonstrating that visitation would not interfere with the relationship between the child and their parent or legal guardian; and any evidence which demonstrates that the child's parent has unreasonably denied or limited contact between the child and the petitioning grandparent.
Criteria for Custody
Likewise, if a grandparent is seeking custody of a grandchild, he must make a case before the court that his custodianship of the child is in the child's best interest. Under Oregon law, the grandparent can present evidence that speaks to criteria much the same as applies to a petition for visitation.
In addition to evidence submitted by a grandparent demonstrating that he is or recently has been the child's primary caretaker, or that circumstances detrimental to the child exist if custody of the child is not granted to the grandparent, a grandparent may also be required to present evidence demonstrating that the child's current legal guardian is not able, or is unwilling to provide adequate care for he child.
Adoption by Stepparent
Under Oregon law, if a stepparent of a child files a petition for custody following or during the dissolution of a marriage, a copy of this petition must be delivered to the child's biological grandparents so that they can petition the court for visitation rights. By state law, a grandparent must file a petition for visitation with the court in which the custody case is in motion within 30 days from the date of her notification of the custody petition.
If custody of a child is granted to a stepparent and the child's grandparent fails to file a petition for visitation within the 30-day window, the stepparent may then legally deny the grandparent visitation rights.