A significant change in the custody law is set to take place on July 4, 2018. The new statute affects the ability of grandparents and great-grandparents of the third parties to seek child custody rights in Court.
The new law is intended to address a 2016 Supreme Court case that held a portion of the old Grandparents Custody Act unconstitutional and limited grandparent’s custody rights. Under the Supreme Court’s decision, grandparents were no longer allowed to seek custody where a divorce proceeding had not been commenced or the biological parents had not been married.
As of the Fourth of July, grandparents, and great-grandparents rights have been expanded. Now, the grandparents and great-grandparents have the ability to seek partial physical custody where their relationship with the child began with either the consent of a parent or under a Court Order. Under those circumstances, a grandparent or great-grandparent can seek custody as long as parents have commenced a custody proceeding and cannot agree on whether the grandparents or great-grandparent should have custody.
So, grandparents and great-grandparents now are able to seek custody rights in Court regardless of whether the parents have commenced a divorce proceeding or were even ever married.
As with any new law, time will tell how the Courts ultimately interpret this and whether the legislature effectively addressed the 2016 Supreme Court Decision.
Lance Nelson, chair of the Firm’s family law practice, has over 25 years of experience representing clients in family law matters such as divorce, marital agreements, adoption, custody and support, and counseling his business clients on a variety of legal issues such as contract disputes, construction issues, corporate control issues and other aspects of day-to-day business disputes.