On March 8, 2016, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case called Petition of Pamela and Robert Lundquist, which greatly clarified the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren. Under New Hampshire law, a grandparent can ask for a court order allowing them to see their grandchildren. However, they are only able to file this petition if the grandchild’s nuclear family has been threatened by one parent’s death, divorce, termination of parental rights, or other such cause.
In Lundquist, the children’s father died. The maternal grandparents sought a court order allowing them to visit with their grandchildren. The mother objected and the trial court dismissed the petition. The trial court found that the mother could object to the grandparents’ request and, because the grandparents were not related to the deceased father of the children, they had no standing to bring their petition.
On appeal, the Supreme Court disagreed and held that the grandparent visitation statute does not require the grandparents to first show that it was their son or daughter’s death that caused the disruption of the grandchild’s nuclear family. All the grandparents need to show is that one or both of the parents have died (or one of them has filed for divorce, termination of parental rights or other such activity) for them (the grandparents) to be able to ask the court for the right to see the grandchildren.
It is important to note that the Supreme Court did not state that the grandparents could see the grandchildren. All the Supreme Court held was that the grandparents had the right to ask to see the grandchildren. The trial court could still deny their petition if it is shown that contact between children and grandparents would not be in the grandchildren’s best interest.
If you have any questions regarding grandparents’ rights, please contact one of the attorneys at Hamblett & Kerrigan for a consultation.
Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at [email protected].