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Melissa A. Featherston

Understanding the legal rights of grandparents in Missouri

In certain situations, grandparents may have concerns and questions regarding their legal rights for visitation or custody. In some cases, grandparents may wish to pursue court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren or even seek custody. These cases are complex, making it most beneficial for a grandparent to seek counsel from a legal professional knowledgeable in the legal rights of grandparents in Missouri.

In Missouri, the court will generally defer to the parental preference regarding visitation with the grandparents. Even though the state is considered to be a relatively permissive state, grandparents will face a difficult legal battle if they wish to be granted visitation or custody. Unless certain circumstances exist, the court will show preference to the wishes of the custodial parent. 

Grandparents may be granted visitation or custody if the parents are divorced or divorcing. They also have options if they have been denied visitation by a living parent after the death of the other parent, if the child used to live with the grandparents or if visitation has been unreasonably denied. As with any complex custody or family law dispute, the court will ultimately consider what is in the best interests of the child.

Fighting for legal rights as a grandparent can be an arduous and complex process, but it is not hopeless. If the parental situation is questionable or other extreme circumstances exist, it is possible that visitation or custody could be granted. Grandparents should note that it is best to understand their options by seeking a complete case evaluation with a family law attorney. At this point, a lawyer can provide guidance regarding the best way to proceed.

Source: grandparents.about.com, "Missouri Grandparents' Rights", Susan Adcox, Dec. 30, 2014

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