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Grandparent Rights

What rights do grandparents have regarding their grandchildren?

A grandparent may ask the court for an order granting them either custody or visitation of a grandchild. Both kinds of cases have very specific requirements.

How do grandparents try to get custody of a grandchild?

There is no law in Alaska that specifically addresses a grandparent's right to file for custody of a grandchild. Alaska Supreme Court cases have recognized that a parent is entitled to a preference over non-parents in custody determinations. A court can only override this preference if:

If you are interested in filing for custody of your grandchild, you should consult with an attorney to understand what is involved in this type of case. You can call the Family Law Self-Help Center telephone helpline and the staff may have forms to help you depending on the specifics of your situation.

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How do grandparents try to get visitation with a grandchild?

A grandparent may ask the court for an order that gives them reasonable rights to visit grandchildren. Usually, there is already a case between the parents to decide custody. The court will consider:

This website discusses how grandparents can ask the court to order visitation if there is a current or old custody and visitation decision for the grandchildren.

You should read the law on grandparent's visitation rights to determine if the law applies to you and for more information. You should consult with an attorney to decide whether to ask the court to establish grandparents visitation rights. If you are representing yourself, you can call the Family Law Self-Help Center telephone helpline.

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What are the steps for asking for grandparent visitation?

There are 2 steps.

  1. Ask the court to join the existing custody case between the parents. Joining the case means that the court will let you participate in the case about the children. Cases dealing with visitation usually involve parents so that is why you need to specially ask to be part of this case for the limited reason of asking for visitation.
  2. Ask for grandparent visitation. To decide which forms you need, figure out whether:

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Which forms are used to join the custody case?

Please read the information about serving the opposing party.

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What forms are used to ask for grandparent visitation?

There are 2 different motion forms depending on whether custody between the parents has been decided.

If there is a custody case going on between the parents but the court has not made a final decision about custody, you can file:

If the parents already have a final order about custody in a divorce or custody case, you can file:

Please read the information about serving the opposing party.

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When do you file the different paperwork?

Remember, this is a 2 step process where first you ask to join the case and second you ask for visitation. This means that the court needs to decide your motion to join the case before you can actually ask the court for visitation. You have two options of how to file:

  1. File the paperwork to join the case before the paperwork asking for grandparent visitation. If the court decides to let you join the case, you can file the paperwork asking for visitation.

OR

  1. File the paperwork to join the case and the paperwork asking for grandparent visitation together at the same time. The court will decide whether to let you join the case before considering your motion for visitation. The court will not decide the issues any faster this way, but you take care of all of the paperwork at the same time.

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What if there is no custody case between the parents about the grandchildren?

You need to contact an attorney to help you figure out what complaint for visitation to file. The paperwork on this website only applies to cases when there is a pending or decided custody decision between the parents that you are trying to change to give you visitation with the grandchildren.

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Where do I find out more information about different stages of a case or specific topics?

This website has forms and information for all of the stages of the case. You can also find information about specific topics such as child support, parenting and custody, and paternity.

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Rev. 31 January 2012
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www.courts.alaska.gov
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