As the American Association of Retired Persons explains, grandparents do not have automatic visitation rights to see their grandchildren; however, some states allow grandparents to petition the court to grant visitation rights in specific situations. The criteria used by courts to grant visitation to grandparents varies by state but generally take into account the marital status of the parents and the prior relationship between the grandparent and grandchild.
According to the California Judicial Branch, the state's courts grant petitions for grandparent visitation by finding a pre-existing, close relationship and a positive benefit for the welfare of the child. The courts also require that the parents be divorced or live separately or that the child does not reside with either parent.
In other states, such as Alaska, the Alaska Court System explains that it also considers the child's custody arrangements in addition to well-being and the depth of prior contact between the grandparent and grandchild. As the website of the attorney general of Texas explains, in that state grandparents cannot petition for visitation if the grandchild was adopted by a non-relative. Both the California Judicial Branch and the AARP recommend that the grandparents attempt mediation or counseling prior to seeking court authorized intervention.