Grandparents in Ohio can file for visitation and companionship rights of their grandchildren under certain circumstances. The law allows the grandparent(s) to file a motion in common pleas court if one of three circumstances arise:
(1) When married parents terminate their marriage or separate.
(2) When a parent of a child is deceased.
(3) When the child is born to an unmarried woman.
Under any of those circumstances, an Ohio court can order reasonable visitation if it is in the best interest of the child. The court will invariably use the “best interest of the child” analysis in any custody or visitation action in Ohio—that language runs pervasively throughout family law.
Visitation and companionship, however, maintains a much different legal requirement than custody for grandparents. The law for grandparent custody of their grandchildren was laid out decades ago by the Ohio Supreme Court in the case of In Re Perales. Under that ruling, grandparents only have a right to custody if both parents are found to be “unfit parents.”
There are two devices that can be useful to grandparents if they are seeking custody, but they are both only applicable under very limited circumstances. The “Grandparent Caretaker Law” provides for a parents power of attorney, and secondly, a caretaker authorization affidavit.
The parent’s power of attorney allows grandparents to acquire quasi-custody of their grandchildren if the parent of the child consents. This requires the parent of the child to make these declarations as follows:
“I have a well-founded belief that the power of attorney is in the child’s best interest, (and) I am not transferring my rights and responsibilities regarding the child for the purpose of enrolling the child in a school or school district so that the child may participate in the academic or interscholastic athletic programs provided by that school or district.”
The second device, the caretaker authorization affidavit, is used when the child(ren) are living with the grandparents and the parent’s cannot be found. The grandparent must have made reasonable attempts to locate the parent. The grandparent must also make a declaratory statement that is similar in content to the above-mentioned attestation.
As a parent or grandparent, it is crucially important that you seek an experienced family law attorney to represent your interests should the need arise. Please call Slater & Zurz LLP we know the law, and will listen to you and answer your questions, helping you all the way through the process. Please give us a call at 1-800-297-9191 or send us a Message to make an appointment to meet with an Ohio family law attorney who understands.