LEGAL CORNER: Do grandparents have visitation rights?

LEGAL CORNER: Do grandparents have visitation rights?
(Source: KPLC)

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QUESTION: My adult son is going through a divorce and his soon-to-be ex-wife will not let me see my grandchild. Do grandparents have any kind of visitation rights in Louisiana? Do other states have these kinds of rights?

ANSWER: A grandparent is not a parent. Generally, in most cases, grandparents themselves do not have individual rights to seek grandchild visitation. They generally must access their grandchildren through their parents. As you probably already know, every case in which children are an issue is different. In limited circumstances, grandparents are provided certain legal rights by Title 9:343 which appears below. Title 9 provides that the grandparents have a legal right for visitation of their children in extraordinary circumstances, such as if the parents were to divorce, separate for at least 6 months, or even if from the death of one of the parents.

The court in its discretion determines whether such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child.

Each state has its own set of rules determining rights of grandparents. In order to be sure what your rights are in other states, you will want to contact an attorney licensed in that state.

LA.R.S. 9§344. Visitation rights of grandparents and siblings

A. If one of the parties to a marriage dies, is interdicted, or incarcerated, and there is a minor child or children of such marriage, the parents of the deceased, interdicted, or incarcerated party without custody of such minor child or children may have reasonable visitation rights to the child or children of the marriage during their minority, if the court in its discretion finds that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child or children.

B. When the parents of a minor child or children live in concubinage and one of the parents dies, or is incarcerated, the parents of the deceased or incarcerated party may have reasonable visitation rights to the child or children during their minority, if the court in its discretion finds that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child or children.

C. If one of the parties to a marriage dies or is incarcerated, the siblings of a minor child or children of the marriage may have reasonable visitation rights to such

child or children during their minority if the court in its discretion finds that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child or children.

D. If the parents of a minor child of the marriage have lived apart for a period of six months, in extraordinary circumstances, the grandparents or siblings of the child may have reasonable visitation rights to the child during his minority, if the court in its discretion finds that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child. In determining the best interest of the child the court shall consider the same factors contained in Civil Code Article 136(D). Extraordinary circumstances shall include a determination by a court that a parent is abusing a controlled dangerous substance.

Acts 1993, No. 261, §1; Acts 1999, No. 1352, §1; Acts 2012, No. 763, §2, eff. June 12, 2012.

QUESTION: I was served an eviction notice saying that I was being evicted for "criminal activity." The police did come to my house, but I was not arrested, and I was never charged with a crime. Can my landlord evict me?

ANSWER: Check your lease. If you have a written lease agreement, and if the agreement states that criminal activity is a violation or breach of the lease, then the landlord may be within his/her rights to evict you, but it also depends on how criminal activity is defined in that lease. If the mere act of the police showing up at your door is within that scope of criminal activity, as defined in the lease then yes, you may be evicted whether you were arrested or not. If "criminal activity" is not defined, or if you do not have a written lease then there is a good chance of successfully defending against the eviction.

QUESTION: People say that I need to have a lawyer write a will for me. But I have also heard that I can write my own will. If I make a will without the help of a lawyer, is it still legal?

ANSWER: The answer is yes, you can technically create your own will legally. Louisiana Civil Code recognizes two valid forms of a will: Notarial and Olographic.

  • A notarial will requires the document be signed in front of a certified notary with two witnesses present.
  • An Olographic will (known as a holographic will in other states) is a will that has been written, signed and dated entirely in the handwriting of the person making the will, not typed.

Although olographic wills are perfectly legal, I would advise talking with an attorney to discuss inheritance strategies to ensure that your assets are distributed the way you intend them to be. Louisiana Civil Code arts. 1574-1580.1

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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