Do grandparents have the right to visit a grandchild?
Nevada law does not automatically entitle grandparents to visitation rights with their grandchildren. However, courts can grant grandparents a reasonable right to visitation if a parent of the grandchild:
- Is deceased;
- Is divorced or separated from the parent who has custody of the grandchild;
- Has never been legally married to the other parent of the grandchild, but cohabited with the other parent and is deceased or separated from the parent; or
- Has relinquished their parental rights or their parental rights have been terminated.
Note that courts usually will not grant grandparents visitation if both parents
- are alive and married,
- have not had their parental rights terminated, and
- do not want the grandparents to see the grandchild.1
Note that seeking visitation is an entirely different procedure than pursuing custody of a grandchild because the grandchild’s parents are unfit. Learn more about guardianship laws in Nevada and child adoption in Nevada.
Can one of my grandchild’s parents restrict me from seeing my grandchild?
If a grandchild’s parent denies or unreasonably restricts visitation, there is a presumption under Nevada law that grandparent visitation will not be in the best of the grandchild.
However, a grandparent may rebut this presumption by proving in court by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the grandchild’s best interests to grant visitation.
“Clear and convincing” is a medium standard. It is
- lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt” (used only in criminal cases), but
- higher than “preponderance of the evidence” (used only in civil cases).
There is only one scenario where grandparents can successfully rebut the presumption that visitation is not in the best interest of the grandchild by meeting the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This is when:
- the grandchild is in the care of child protective services or other public agency; and
- the parental rights of both the grandchild’s parents are in the process of being terminated but have not yet been terminated.2
How does the court determine whether visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child?
In order to determine whether the grandparent seeking visitation has successfully rebutted the presumption that visitation rights are not in the best interest of the grandchild, a Nevada court will consider the following factors:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties that exist between the grandparents and the grandchild.
- The prior relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent, including whether the grandchild resided with the grandparents and whether the grandchild was included in holidays and family gathering with the grandparents.
- The moral fitness of the grandparents.
- The mental and physical health of the grandparents.
- The reasonable preference of the grandchild.
- The willingness and ability of the grandparents to facilitate and encourage a continuing relationship between the grandchild and the parents of the grandchild as well as with other relatives.
- The medical and other needs of the grandchild as affected by the visitation.
- The support provided by the grandparents, including financial support provided for the support of the grandchild.
- The capacity and disposition of the grandparents to:
- Give the grandchild love, affection and guidance and serve as a role model to the child;
- Cooperate in providing the grandchild with food, clothing, and other material needs during visitation; and
- Cooperate in providing the grandchild with health care.
- Other factors the court deems relevant.3
Do great-grandparents have visitation rights?
Great-grandparents may also seek visitation rights. To determine whether granting visitation rights to the great-grandparents would be in the great-grandchild’s best interest, the court will look to the same factors listed above.
These factors also apply to siblings of the child and to others with whom the child has resided and established a close relationship.4
Why should I hire an attorney?
If you have been unreasonably denied the right to visit your grandchildren, know that rebutting the presumption that granting such visitation rights would not be in the best interest of the child is a difficult, fact-specific inquiry.
Every case and every familial relationship is different, and your circumstances might not squarely fit the court’s process for determining the best interests of the child.
It is important to speak with an experienced Nevada family law attorney to ensure that you have a continuing relationship with your grandchild.
- NRS 125C.050. See also Troxel v. Granville (2000) 530 U.S. 57. Ramos v. Franklin (2023) 139 Nev. Adv. Op. 6 (“In a petition for visitation under NRS 125C.050, where the parents of minor children have joint custody, the district court must determine whether the parents have denied or unreasonably restricted petitioners’ visits with the children. If one parent provides the petitioners with sufficient contact with the children so that their visits are not denied or unreasonably restricted under NRS 125C.050(3), the petition fails, regardless of whether the other parent provides contact. Here, one parent permitted regular contact between the grandparents and the children and thus the grandparents were not denied or unreasonably restricted visitation.”).
- Same. See NRS 125C.0035 (“best interest of the child” standard). Stewart v. Steward (1995) (“[W]e interpret NRS 125A.340 to set up a presumption against court-ordered grandparental visitation when divorced parents with full legal rights to the children agree that it is not in the child’s best interest to see the grandparents. Absent the presentation of clear and convincing evidence showing otherwise, the court should not interfere with the decision of the natural parents.”). Bopp v. Lino (1994) (“Once an adoption is entered, a grandparent lacks standing to petition for visitation rights. NRS 127.171 serves as a jurisdictional requisite for a grandparent to petition for visitation rights to a natural grandchild.”).
- See note 1.