When it comes to grandparents custody rights, in most states grandparents have no rights to visit, see or speak with their grandchildren unless the child's parents permit such. This means that a grandparent cannot petition the court for access to the grandchild; such a petition will likely be immediately dismissed because of the lack of legal basis to grant the request. However, if a grandparent believes that her grandchild's welfare is in serious danger, she can notify the authorities and potentially petition the court for custody of the child.
Grandparent Custody Rights
A grandparent has no legal right to custody of a child who is being removed from her parent's care. However, grandparents may be preferred by the court over other potential custodians because of their blood relationship to the child. This preference, however, will only arise in child abuse or other similar cases in which the state takes control over the child's safety because the child's parents are abusive or otherwise unable to care for the child. A grandparent can also receive custody of a child if the child's parents voluntarily relinquish their rights to the grandparent.
Exception to the Rule
The only potential exception to this rule is if the grandparent has been caring for the child for an extended period of time and the parents have been and remained absent during that time. In this case, the grandparents could petition the court for custody of the child and would likely be granted their request. The grandparent's petition, however, would cause a child custody lawsuit to arise, which would involve the state attorney's office and potentially the police.