Can grandparents be awarded visitation or custody of a child?
The court determines what would be in the best interest of the child as regarding grandparental visitation or custody of a child. Traditionally, the common law denied visitation with a child to grandparents if a parent objected. But post 1965, all 50 states have enacted legislation that enables grandparents to approach the courts for seeking visitation with grandchildren. That doesn’t mean the automatic granting of visitation to grandparents; it simply means they have the right to petition the court for a visitation order. In all cases, the rights of the parent surpass a grandparent’s request for visitation or custody, and so grandparents must have serious reasons for pursuing legal avenues when seeking access to a grandchild.
Some states even allow the right to petition for visitation to other relatives like aunts, uncles, stepparents, etc. and even non-relatives with whom the child has a close relationship. In Maryland, the law doesn’t provide a list of factors that the court must consider to award custody or visitation. Judges are free to consider the facts and circumstances pertaining to each case before granting visitation or custody.