Do I as a grandparent have any rights as far as my grandchildren in Virginia are concerned? Could I possibly fight for their custody legally? Would I have to be a rresident of Virginia?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Grandparents rights
There are a couple of statutes dealing with grandparent visitation. One is § 63.1-204.1, which deals with visitation with children placed in foster care.
The other is § 20-124.2, which addresses grandparent visitation in Court-ordered custody and visitation cases.
Additionally, anybody, including the town drunk, with a legitimate interest in the child can file a custody petition for any child. That, of course, doesn't guarantee that the petitioner gets custody or even visitation.
Virginia Code § 16.1-250 establishes how cases in Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court are instituted. It's by petition and the most pertinent statutory language is:
C. The intake officer shall accept and file a petition in which it is alleged that (i) the custody, visitation or support of a child is the subject of controversy or requires determination, (ii) a person has deserted, abandoned or failed to provide support for any person in violation of law, (iii) a child or such child's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis is entitled to treatment, rehabilitation or other services which are required by law, or (iv) family abuse has occurred and a protective order is being sought pursuant to §§ 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4 or § 16.1-279.1. If any such complainant does not file a petition, the intake officer may file it. In cases in which a child is alleged to be abused, neglected, in need of services, in need of supervision or delinquent, if the intake officer believes that probable cause does not exist, or that the authorization of a petition will not be in the best interest of the family or juvenile or that the matter may be effectively dealt with by some agency other than the court, he may refuse to authorize the filing of a petition.
You do not have to be a Virginia resident to file for custody.