Grandparent and Third Party Custody in Delaware
Delaware statutes allow for third party visitation, and grandparents are specifically mentioned in the law. In order to sue for visitation, grandparents should have had a “substantial and positive prior relationship with the child” or be a “relative of the child.” The law also contains the usual statement that the visitation must be in the “child’s best interests.” Additionally, in a case in which a parent objects to the visitation, the petitioner (the grandparent) must show “by a preponderance of evidence” that the parent’s objection is unreasonable and that such visitation “will not substantially interfere with the parent/child relationship.” If a non-parent wishes to have visitation with a child, a Petition for 3rd Party/Grandparent Visitation may be filed.
Delaware law also covers several other situations. First, it allows for visitation if a parent consents without specifying why grandparents would need to go to court in such cases. Second, it allows for visitation if a child is “dependent, neglected or abused in the parent’s care.” Third, it allows for visitation if a parent is deceased.
If parental rights are terminated, as occurs with adoption, the rights of the grandparents are cut off also. However, if parental rights are given up and three years pass without the child being adopted, third-party visitation may be sought. Also, agreements about visitation made prior to the termination of rights may be honored by the court.
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