Mississippi Divorce Attorney Explains Grandparent Visitation in Mississippi

It is important for children to have meaningful relationships with adults who are not their mother and father. Many adults have fond memories of the times that they shared with one or more of their grandparents. From helping Grandma in the kitchen as she prepared delicious meals and treats, to going fishing with Grandpa and coming home with a couple of fish and a lot of great stories, the memories that our grandparents gave us serve as reminders of the time and attention that they devoted to helping us learn and grow.

While not all children have grandparents who are actively involved in their lives, those who do form close connections with them. The relationship between a child and their grandparent deserves respect, and the State of Mississippi recognizes that. In Mississippi, the visitation rights of grandparents are set forth in MCA 93-16-3. This statute is designed to ensure that grandparents who have close relationships with their grandchildren can continue to visit with them regularly in the event that one or both of the children’s parents die, the children’s parents divorce, the rights of one or both parents are terminated, or even if the relationship between the children’s parents and their grandparents has deteriorated.

Mississippi’s grandparent visitation statute does not apply to all grandparents. Since the grandparent visitation statute is designed to protect the relationship between grandparent and grandchild, it makes sense that visitation is awarded only when it is in the best interest of the child. In order to be granted visitation, a grandparent must show that they have a viable relationship with the grandchild or grandchildren that they seek to visit. In Mississippi, a viable relationship can take one of two forms. The first type of viable relationship is when a grandparent supports a grandchild financially, either in full or in part, for at least six months prior to petitioning the court for visitation. The second form of viable relationship is where the grandparent has visited the child frequently for at least a year prior to petitioning the court for visitation.

When a grandparent seeks visitation, the court analyzes ten different factors while making its decision on whether to award visitation, and how much visitation to award. The factors which the court considers are set forth in Martin v. Coop, 693 So.2d 912, 913 (Miss. 1997). Courts consider the ages of both the grandchild or grandchildren and the grandparents, the physical and mental health of the grandparents, the distance between the home of the child and the home of the grandparents, any employment responsibilities of the grandparents, the moral fitness of the grandparents, the suitability of the grandparents’ home for visits, the bond between grandparent and grandchild, whether a grant of visitation is likely to cause any disruption in the child’s life, and whether the grandparents are likely to interfere with the parenting choices and disciplinary decisions that are made by the children’s parents.

If you are a grandparent who is in a situation where you are unable to see your grandchildren because of the death of one of their parents, a divorce, a termination of parental rights, or a falling out with one of their parents, a Mississippi Family Law Attorney may be able to assist you in getting the visitation that you and your grandchildren want. Matthew S. Poole is an experienced Mississippi Divorce Attorney who is known for providing caring and compassionate legal counsel. To find out how Matthew can help you, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.