The United States divorce rate is approximately 2.7 per thousand annually. When the breakdown of a family occurs, whether due to divorce, separation, or the death of a spouse, the subject of custody and child visitation rights becomes a central issue.
Sadly, during co-parenting disputes, many grandparents lose the right to see their beloved grandchildren. However, if this is your situation, you can file a petition to the court for legal visitation.
How Grandparents Can Obtain Child Visitation Rights
According to New Jersey law, grandparents have the right to seek child visitation rights for any grandchildren who are minors. However, this does not mean that grandparents are guaranteed to be granted visitation; there are several legal hurdles you need to jump first.
Those seeking grandparents’ visitation rights have what is known as the “burden of proof”; in other words, you must provide evidence that it would cause harm to the child or children in question if your visitation rights were not granted. If this is not established, it’s not possible to supersede the parent’s constitutional right to decide how they raise their children.
There are many factors that the court considers when determining if granting grandparents visitation rights is in the best interest of the child and that the child would be harmed if they didn’t see the grandparents. This includes an established grandparent-grandchild relationship if the child has spent time living with the grandparent and the potential effect on the parent-child relationship if the grandparents’ visitation rights are granted.
Common Questions Used to Determine Grandparents’ Visitation Rights
When establishing whether to allow grandparents the right to see their grandchildren, there are specific questions that the court frequently asks. Preparing yourself and gathering the relevant evidence will support your petition. These questions include:
- Are the grandparents actively involved in the grandchild’s life?
- How much time has the child spent with the grandparents?
- What is the nature of the relationship between the parents and grandparents?
- Have the grandparents financially supported the child?
- Has the grandchild ever lived with the grandparent for an extended period?
- Are the grandparents physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to care for the child?
Ultimately, to grant child visitation rights to the grandparents, the court must establish that not having contact with their grandparents will negatively impact the child.
Grandparent Rights After Adoption
If a stepparent adopts the child, all the biological parents’ and relatives’ legal rights are transferred to the adoptive family. However, the court may award child visitation rights to the biological grandparents if they determine that it is in the child’s best interest, taking their health and safety into account.
Get Legal Support
Although having regular access to their grandparents is often beneficial to a child, grandparents are not automatically awarded visitation rights. Unfortunately, proving to the courts that a child will come to harm if they do not see their grandparents can be challenging.
That’s why it‘s essential to work with an experienced law firm like Lyons & Associates, P.C., specializing in family law in New Jersey. Our talented professionals can guide you through this complex process and fight to protect your rights as a loving grandparent. Contact us online or call us today at (908) 575-9777 to discuss how we can help you.