Often, during divorce or paternity matters, physical custody (who the child lives with) is either divided jointly or one parent is granted custody and the other parent is granted parenting time1. But what about parties who are not parents? Can they get visitation with the child?
There are three main categories of parties who can petition the Court for visitation: parents, stepparents, and grandparents2. However, just because one of these persons wishes to have visitation, there are still hurdles to overcome. For example, Grandparent Visitation is governed in Indiana by statute3 and a Grandparent seeking visitation with a child must show the Court that “(1) the presumption that a fit parent acts in his child's best interests, (2) the special weight that must be given to a fit parent's decision to deny or limit visitation, (3) whether the grandparent has established that visitation is in the child's best interests, and (4) whether the parent has denied visitation or has simply limited visitation.”4
Recently, a Court of Appeals Decision noted that a same sex partner of a biological Mother who helped raise the child while the parties were together had standing to request visitation, as well5. This area of law continues to grow and become more developed as different states begin to define marriage and family differently.
Step-parents and parents along with grandparents and same-sex partners must generally show that visitation is in the best interests of the child. This is a universal standard in family law in Indiana. However, the fundamental right of parents to raise their child6 is considered and balanced against requests for visitation and is often a major factor in determining visitation.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in generally exploring the categories of persons who may seek visitation in family law matters. It is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.
- See generally, Ind. Code 31-17-2-8, Ind. Code 31-17-4-1, Ind. Code 31-14-13-2 , Ind. Code 31-14-14-1
- See Kitchen v. Kitchen, 953 N.E.2d 646 (Ind.Ct.App.2011)
- See Ind. Code 31-17-5-et al.
- See K.I. ex rel.J.I. v. J.H., 903 N.E.2d 453, 462 (Ind.2009).
- See  A.C. v. N.J., __ N.E.2d __ (Ind.Ct.App.2013)
- See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).