It is not uncommon for grandparents to wonder whether they can obtain custody of their grandchild(ren). This situation often arises when a grandparent has raised his or her grandchild without the assistance of either biological parent.
Resolving a custody dispute between a third party and a parent involves a two-step analysis by the Court. The first step requires either a termination of parental rights or a finding of exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances exist by establishing that the grandparent has become a “psychological parent.” In New Jersey, to establish a grandparent as a “psychological parent,” the court must find that:
- The biological parent consented to, and fostered, the grandparent’s formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with the child;
- The grandparent and the child lived together in the same household;
- The grandparent had taken significant responsibility for the child’s care, education and development, including contributing towards the child’s support, without the expectation of reimbursement from the biological parent; and
- The grandparent has been in a parental role long enough to have established a bonded, dependent relationship with the child.
Once such a “psychological parent” relationship is established, the issue of custody is appropriately decided on what is in child’s best interests. However, in all “psychological parent” cases, the outcome will depend on the full facts and the existence of other factors that can best be addressed by speaking to one of the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C.
Lyons & Associates focuses its practice on family law and family law related issues, including Grandparent Visitation cases. If you or someone you know needs helps with this issue, please call the skilled attorneys at Lyons & Associates, at (908) 575-9777 to schedule a free consultation. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates have substantial expertise zealously advocating for their clients.
By: Thomas Gilbert, Esq.