Grandparents may wish to seek custody or visitation of grandchildren to legally preserve this important relationship. Mississippi law allows courts to award grandparent visitation in certain circumstances.
Review the process of seeking legal custody or visitation of grandchildren in Mississippi.
Reviewing eligibility for visitation
Mississippi allows either maternal or paternal grandparents to ask for legal visitation of a child when:
- Either of the child’s parents dies
- The court terminates the rights of either child’s parent
- The parents end their relationship and one parent receives custody of the child
If none of these factors is present, grandparents can still seek legal visitation. However, they must prove that visitation would serve the child’s best interest, that a viable relationship with the child already exists and that the child’s parent has unfairly kept the child from the grandparent.
Understanding the legal process
The grandparent must request visitation by petitioning the chancery court in the area where the child lives. If the child is the subject of a custody order, the grandparent can petition the chancery court that issued the order.
Proof that a viable relationship with the grandchild already exists must include evidence of a grandparent-grandchildren relationship over the past 12 months including overnight visits and evidence that the grandparent partially or completely financially supported the grandchild for at least six months.
Seeking grandparent custody
In some cases, grandparents may wish to seek partial or full custody of grandchildren. Mississippi courts rarely grant custody to grandparents over parents. However, the grandparent may have a case if the custodial parent is abusive, has partners who are abusive, struggles with substance abuse, cannot care for the child because of mental or physical health issues, or faces jail time for a criminal conviction.
Grandparents who seek custody in this situation must show that this arrangement serves the child’s health, safety and welfare. They must also support the preservation of a relationship between the child and the parents if it serves the child’s best interests to do so.