The Indiana legislature established the Grandparent Visitation Act in 1982 to allow a grandparent to seek visitation with a grandchild under certain circumstances. It is based on the assumption of only occasional, temporary visitation, and cannot interfere with or infringe on a parent's upbringing of, education of, or religious decisions for a child.
There are three situations in which the Grandparent Visitation Act can apply.
First, a grandparent may request visitation with a child if both parents are deceased. Second, if the child's parents have divorced, then visitation may be granted. Third, if the child was born to unwed parents and paternity has been established by the court, then a grandparent may be granted visitation rights.
In all circumstances, it is the right of a parent to determine the best interests of a child regarding visitation. If a grandparent chooses to dispute that decision and file a Petition for Visitation with the court, it becomes his or her burden to prove that denial of visitation is not in the child's best interest. This will entail both personal testimony as well as the presentation of physical evidence.
The standard of proof is even higher in matters where a parent does not wish for grandparent visitation to be allowed. In this situation, the court is tasked with evaluating all evidence presented and deciding whether going against a parent's wishes is what is best for all involved. Again, the child's best interests are the number one priority in any visitation matter.
Due to the complexity of these matters and the burden of proof, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced attorney prior to any filings.