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 3rd Party/Grandparent  Visitation Overview

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THIRD PARTY/GRANDPARENT VISITATION

Any non-parent, including grandparents may file for visitation with a child if they:

1)  have a substantial and positive prior relationship with the child OR
2)  are a relative of the child

If a non-parent wishes to have visitation with a child, a Petition for 3rd Party/Grandparent Visitation (Form #172) may be filed. 

After a Petition for 3rd Party/Grandparent Visitation is filed in Family Court, the respondents in the petition (usually the child’s parents) must be personally served with a summons including a copy of the petition.  When positive service has been returned to the Court, the case is normally referred to mediation.  If there has been a finding of domestic violence or a no contact order is currently in effect concerning the parties, there will not be a mediation hearing unless the victim’s attorney requests a mediation hearing and is present.  If mediation is bypassed, the petition will be assigned to a Judge for a hearing.

At the mediation hearing, the mediator will assist the parties in coming to an agreement or defining the issues which the parties cannot agree upon.  The mediator will inform both of the parties of the language and content of the Contact Guidelines used by the Court.  If the parties are able to come to an  agreement, a consent order will be completed and signed by the parties.  If mediation is not successful, the petition will then be assigned to a Judge for a full hearing at a later date.

After an order for visitation has been entered, if either party files a Petition for Visitation Modification, the petition will again be referred to mediation (unless bypassed because of a finding of domestic violence or no contact order).  If no agreement is reached at mediation, the petition would be referred to a Judge.

Additional information can be found in Title 13, Chapter 7 of the Delaware Code.