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Grandmother and granddaughter

When Grandparent Visitation Is Denied, Take It to Court

Are grandparents important to a child?


There are three wonderful things that grandparents bring to their grandchildren. One, they give each child extra attention. Two, they have the wisdom of another time and place, and they teach children values, traditions, and another point of view. Three, most importantly, they shower children with love. These benefits last a lifetime!

At Hope Law Firm, we celebrate the positive role that grandparents play in a child’s life.

When Are Iowa Grandparents Allowed to File for Custody?

Divorce or estrangement can rip grandchildren away from the loving arms of their grandparents. The State of Iowa is particularly brutal to grandparents’ rights—in fact, a grandparent is not allowed to ask the court for visitation unless:

  • One parent (the son or daughter of the grandparent) is dead.
  • The child is in foster care.
  • A stepparent has adopted the child.
  • The child was born out of wedlock and is currently in the custody of the other parent.

These stringent requirements are meant to give parents more rights. A recent Supreme Court decision reinforced this interpretation of Iowa’s child custody laws.

So if you’re a grandparent who wants a closer relationship with your grandchild, put aside negative feelings and try to work with your grandchild’s parent to stay involved in both their lives. Studies have shown that having a grandma and grandpa leads to better outcomes for children, in both the short term and the long run. Do NOT give up your relationship with your grandchildren!

How Can Grandparents Win Visitation?

But if the child’s other parent flat-out refuses to let you see your grandchild, you may have a legal case. As we noted, Iowa errs on the side of parental rights, so you’ll need strong legal advice from an experienced Iowa grandparent-custody lawyer to have a fighting chance in court.

If a grandparent wants to petition the Iowa courts for visitation or even custody, he or she has the burden of proving that:

  1. Visitation would be in the child’s best interest.
  2. There is a relationship between the grandparent and child already.
  3. The parent isn’t fit to make this particular decision.

Needless to say, unless the parent denying you custody has serious (and documented) problems, it’s tough to prove. But a loving relationship with a grandparent is definitely something in a child’s “best interest,” so please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our Des Moines family attorneys at Hope Law Firm to find out what can be done. We have experience, knowledge, and compassion for the situation you’re going through, and we’ll work with you to find a solution.