Do I have grandparents rights in Iowa?

Full Question:

I live in Cedar Falls. I am a 53-year-old grandmother who has worked at John Deere 32+ years and I am also a Girl Scout leader. My son had a daughter born May 4, 2008. My son and the baby's mother have dated off and on for ten years. They occasionally lived together. His girlfriend has physically abused my son for years hitting and scratching him causing bruises and bleeding. He won't report the incidents; but he has been to the doctor a couple times when his eye was injured. She has also totaled one of his cars in the past. She has also been arrested once for assault in a bar against another woman. A few weeks ago I called the police after she hit and scratched my son. He escaped to my house asking to spend the night. I called the police for help. He would not press charges. Now, she disallows me any visitation with my granddaughter. Do I have any legal rights for visitation? Do I need to prove her an unfit mother? I don't want custody; I just want occasional visitation. The parents have no custody arrangements. They are both on the apartment lease in which he lives. She stays there when she isn't mad at my son. Otherwise, she stays with her grandparents. This is a very stressful and emotional situation. His Iowa tax refund was recently garnished because she received some aid after the baby was born. Because they reconciled, the state required him to repay the monies the state paid to her. I don't want my son to be harmed further by her or for him to be disallowed to see his own daughter, but I would like to see my granddaughter.
04/01/2009   |   Category: Divorce ยป Grandparents...   |   State: Iowa   |   #15843

Answer:

Iowa passsed a law in 2007 allowing grandparents to petition for visitation. The court will make a subjective determination, based on all the facts and circumstances in each case. The best interests of the child is the determining factor.

The following is an Iowa statute:

600C.1 Grandparent and great-grandparent visitation.

1. The grandparent or great-grandparent of a minor child may petition the
court for grandchild or great-grandchild visitation.

2. The court shall consider a fit parent's objections to granting
visitation under this section. A rebuttable presumption arises that a fit
parent's decision to deny visitation to a grandparent or great-grandparent
is in the best interest of a minor child.

3. The court may grant visitation to the grandparent or great-grandparent
if the court finds all of the following by clear and convincing evidence:

a. The grandparent or great-grandparent has established a substantial
relationship with the child prior to the filing of the petition.

b. The parent who is being asked to temporarily relinquish care, custody,
and control of the child to provide visitation is unfit to make the
decision regarding visitation.

c. It is in the best interest of the child to grant such visitation.

4. For the purposes of this section, "court" means the district court or
the juvenile court if that court currently has jurisdiction over the child
in a pending action. If an action is not pending, the district court has
jurisdiction.

5. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, venue
for any action to establish, enforce, or modify visitation under this
section shall be in the county where either parent resides if no final
custody order determination relating to the grandchild or
great-grandchild has been entered by any other court. If a final custody
order has been entered by any other court, venue shall be located
exclusively in the county where the most recent final custody order was
entered. If any other custodial proceeding is pending when an action to
establish, enforce, or modify visitation under this section is filed,
venue shall be located exclusively in the county where the pending
custodial proceeding was filed.

6. Notice of any proceeding to establish, enforce, or modify visitation
under this section shall be personally served upon all parents of a child
whose interests are affected by a proceeding brought pursuant to this
section and all grandparents or great-grandparents who have previously
obtained a final order or commenced a proceeding under this section.

7. The court shall not enter any temporary order to establish, enforce,
or modify visitation under this section.

8. An action brought under this section is subject to chapter 598B, and
in an action brought to establish, enforce, or modify visitation under this
section, each party shall submit in its first pleading or in an attached
affidavit all information required by section 598B.209.

9. In any action brought to establish, enforce, or modify visitation
under this section, the court may award attorney fees to the prevailing
party in an amount deemed reasonable by the court.

10. If a proceeding to establish or enforce visitation under this
section is commenced when a dissolution of marriage proceeding is pending
concerning the parents of the affected minor child, the record and evidence
of the dissolution action shall remain impounded pursuant to
section 598.26. The impounded information shall not be released or otherwise made
available to any person who is not the petitioner or respondent or an
attorney of record in the dissolution of marriage proceeding. Access to the
impounded information by the attorney of record for the grandparent or
great-grandparent shall be limited to only that information relevant to the
grandparent's or great-grandparent's request for visitation.

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