Traditionally, the common law denied grandparents visitation with a child over a parent’s
objections. But since 1965, all 50 states including New Hampshire with the 2005 enactment of
RSA 461-A:13, have enacted legislation enabling grandparents to petition the courts for visitation
rights with grandchildren. RSA 461-A:13 does not vest grandparents with an automatic right to
visitation, but rather grants grandparents, whether natural or adoptive, the right (or standing) to
petition the court when their contact with their grandchildren has been adversely affected
because of a break down of the grandchild’s nuclear family caused by a “divorce, death,
relinquishment or termination of parental rights.” However, in the first instance, grandparents must
demonstrate that access to their grandchildren had not been earlier, or contemporaneously,
restricted prior the occurrence that lead to the absence of a nuclear family. If the grandparent has
the standing to petition the Court, the following criteria is used in assessing whether to grant
visitation rights to the grandparent:
(a) Whether such visitation would be in the best interest of the child.
(b) Whether such visitation would interfere with any parent-child relationship or with a
parent’s authority over the child.
(c) The nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the minor child, including
but not limited to, the frequency of contact, whether the child has lived with the
grandparent and length of time of such residence, and when there is no reasonable cause to
believe that the child’s physical and emotional health would be endangered by such
visitation or lack of it.
(d) The nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the parent of the minor
child, including friction between the grandparent and the parent, and the effect such
friction would have on the child.
(e) The factual circumstances which lead to the dissolution of the grandchild’s nuclear
(f) The recommendation of the Guardian Ad Litem appointed by the Court to represent the
best interest of the child pursuant to RSA 461-A:16.
(g) Any preference or wishes expressed by the child.
(h) Any such other factors as the court may find appropriate or relevant to the petition for
Once a Court enters an order of visitation between grandchild and grandparent it has as much force and effect as an order regulating custodial time between divorced or divorcing parents. Given the national statistic that approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce and significant roles that