Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Kentucky

By Anna Assad

walk with grandmother image by Igor Shootov from

Grandparents who are being denied access to grandchildren can file for visitation rights in Kentucky. In the past, most states did not recognize grandparent's rights, but several states have now enacted laws regarding the right of a grandparent to visit with a grandchild. In order to have these rights granted in Kentucky, the grandparent must go through a legal process, but not all grandparents are eligible to receive visitation under state law.


In Kentucky, a maternal or paternal grandparent can file for visitation rights if the grandparent is being denied reasonable access to the grandchild. The legal relationship between the child and grandparents has to be documented by birth certificates of the parties involved or other legal proof, and the grandparent must petition the circuit court in the county where the child lives. In order to be awarded these rights, the grandparent has to prove that the visitation would be in the best interests of the child.

Best Interests of the Child

There are many factors a court weighs when determining what is in the best interests of the child. In Kentucky, common issues reviewed by the court include the attitude of the custodial parent toward the grandparent asking for visitation and what type of conflict may be created by awarding these rights. The court also will examine the existing relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild, the child's preference and the mental and physical health of all parties involved.

Reasonable Visitation Rights

Grandparents are generally awarded "reasonable" visitation rights in this state. Reasonable visitation rights are when the visits are scheduled and worked out between the parties involved, rather than a fixed visitation schedule, when the days and times for visits are spelled out in court. If the visitation is insufficient or the grandparents are still being denied reasonable access to the grandchild, the grandparents can return to court to have the visitation modified. In cases where the grandparents live out of state, the visitation scheduled can be modified to include broader stipulations like weekend visits.


A grandparent's legally established visitation rights are not negatively affected if the parental rights of the son or daughter who is the parent of the grandchild are terminated. If the parent who is the child of the grandparent dies, the grandparent can still file for visitation rights with the grandchild if that grandparent has assumed any child support obligations the deceased parent had. These visitation rights may be more broad than the standard grandparent visitation rights and equal to what a non-custodial parent typically receives in Kentucky. If the visitation is not granted, the grandparent is not legally obligated to continue the child support.


If a child is adopted by someone other than a stepparent, the grandparent's visitation rights are automatically terminated. If a grandparent's child had his or her parental rights to the grandchild terminated due to abandonment, the grandparent can be denied visitation rights if the petition for these rights is not filed within five years of the termination. Grandparents who did not have a relationship with the grandchild before filing for visitation may still receive rights, but the custodial parent can ask that the visits be supervised.