It is often said that it takes a village in order to raise a child. Unfortunately, however, some parents in Alaska may decide they do not want the help, or for their children to have contact with their extended families. While there is no specific law granting rights to grandparents in the state, there are situations in which the court may see fit to allow them reasonable rights to visit their grandchildren.
According to the Alaska Court System, grandparents may seek visitation rights with for their grandchildren during an ongoing custody case between their grandchildren’s parents, or after a divorce or custody case has already been decided. In order to have their request considered, grandparents must show that they have had or have tried to have ongoing contact with their grandchildren, limiting their visitation is harmful to their grandchildren and allowing visitation is in the best interests of their grandchildren. In order to be granted visitation, grandparents must provide clear and convincing evidence in support of these factors.
According to Alaska state law, in deciding the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child’s physical, mental, emotional, social and religious needs. Additionally, the capability and willingness of each parent to meet these needs, the existing love and affection between the child and each parent, and the ability and desire of each parent to encourage and help facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent may be taken into account by the court. Further, the court may consider any history of domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect, or substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household that directly affects the child’s physical or emotional well-being.