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What is the Law in Indiana with Regard to Grandparents’ Rights?

Indiana has a Grandparent’s Right statute (Ind. Code 31-17-5-1). It allows a grandparent to seek visitation rights with their grandchild, but only in certain situations, at the discretion of the judge. Not all grandparents therefore are entitled to visitation under Indiana statute. The statute only applies if:

  • a child was born out of wedlock (and paternity has been established if paternal grandparents are seeking visitation);
  • the marriage of the child’s parent has been dissolved in Indiana; or
  • the parent related to the grandparent seeking visitation is deceased.  

Grandparent rights can survive an adoption by a step-parent or biological relative, if the grandparent rights have been established prior to the adoption.

The Court may grant visitation rights if the Court determines that visitation rights are in the best interest of the child. This determination can be based in part on an interview of the child by the Judge in chambers.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that overbroad grandparent visitation statutes can unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of parents to rear their children. Thus, special weight is generally given to a parent’s opinion regarding access that grandparents may have to children, absent extraordinary circumstances.