What Rights Do Grandparents Legally Have in Kansas?
By Jerrie Lynn South - DeRose
All 50 states have some form of grandparent rights in regards to visitation with their grandchildren, and there are even grandparent advocacy groups that work with grandparents to access their legal rights and petition the court for visitation, if necessary. However, in Kansas, as in other states, there are strict guidelines and requirements that must be followed. This is covered under Kansas Statutes 38-129: Visitation Rights of Grandparents.
Grandparents can be given visitation rights if the court determines this is in the best interest of the child. Kansas law allows grandparents to request visitation if they have a well-established and substantial relationship with the child. Grandparents should have an attorney petition the court on their behalf to ensure Kansas statutes are being followed, according to the Kansas Bar Association. According to Scott Wasserman & Associates, LLC, a law firm in Kansas specializing in child custody cases, grandparents can also file a motion to intervene in a divorce case under K.S.A. 60-1616(b), in the county in which the divorce has been filed.
Death of the Child's Parent
The courts can also allow visitation rights to the grandparents if their child has died and the grandchild has been adopted by a step-parent. This falls under Kansas Statute 38-129, section (b).
Kansas statute K.S.A. 38-1583 allows grandparents to earn temporary custody of a grandchild if a determination has been made that a child is in need of care through parental neglect or abuse. Full custody of grandchildren can also be awarded if parents are deemed to be unfit, pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1610(a)(5)(C).
Natural grandparents do not have a right to visitation when the rights of the parents have been severed or when the grandchildren are adopted by third parties, as stated on the Kansas Bar Association website. Grandparents also cannot have visitation rights if they, themselves, are listed in a Child in Need of Care order along with the child's parents, or if they have been charged with neglect or abuse.
Jerrie began writing in 1994 as an early childhood education consultant, reviewing Early Head Start and Head Start programs while assisting with writing and editing reports. She wrote a parenting column from 1993 - 2001. While working on her associate's degree in journalism, Jerrie wrote for the Pratt Community College newspaper. She earned additional education credits in family health and safety, mental health, and disabilities.