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VISITATION RIGHTS OF GRANDPARENTS WHEN THE CHILD IS IN CUSTODY OF A PARENT

A grandparent or great-grandparent may petition a circuit court of Arkansas for reasonable visitation rights with respect to his or her grandchild or grandchildren or great-grandchild or great-grandchildren if:

  • The marital relationship between the parents of the child has been severed by death, divorce, or legal separation;
  • The child is illegitimate and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent of the illegitimate child; or
  • The child is illegitimate, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent of the illegitimate child, and paternity has been established by a court of competent jurisdiction.

There is a rebuttable presumption that a custodian’s decision denying or limiting visitation to the petitioner is in the best interest of the child.

To rebut a presumption, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the following:

  • The child resided with the petitioner for at least six (6) consecutive months with or without the current custodian parent;
  • The petitioner was the caregiver to the child on a regular basis for at least six (6) consecutive months; or
  • The petitioner had frequent or regular contact with the child for at least twelve (12) consecutive months; or
  • Any other facts that establish that the loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child.

To establish that visitation with the petitioner is in the best interest of the child, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the following:

  • The petitioner has the capacity to give the child love, affection, and guidance
  • The loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child
  • The petitioner is willing to cooperate with the custodian if visitation with the child is allowed

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