Do Grandparents Have the Right to Seek Court Ordered Visitation With Their Grandchild(ren)?

New Jersey Family Law Lawyers discuss grandparents seeking court ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Often times in family law matters, there is a break down in the relationship between a grandparent and a parent, but the grandparent would still like to maintain their relationship with their grandchild. The State of New Jersey recognizes the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is of value and should be maintained if in the best interest of the child.

Under N.J.S.A. § 9:2-7.1 (a), “a grandparent or any sibling of a child residing in this State may make application before the Superior Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court, for an order for visitation. It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the granting of visitation is in the best interests of the child.”

The factors the court considers are:

(1) The relationship between the child and the applicant;
(2) The relationship between each of the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing and the applicant;
(3) The time which has elapsed since the child last had contact with the applicant;
(4) The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing;
(5) If the parents are divorced or separated, the time sharing arrangement which exists between the parents with regard to the child;
(6) The good faith of the applicant in filing the application;
(7) Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect by the applicant; and
(8) Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child.

The court will find a “prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child’s best interest if the applicant had, in the past, been a full-time caretaker for the child.” N.J.S.A. § 9:2-7.1 (c).

In the event a grandparent is seeking visitation with his or her grandchild, mediation prior to seeking court intervention may result in a resolution that accommodates all of the parties. Mediation can be less expensive, yield a result in a shorter period of time, and has the potential to assist in creating a cooperative relationship between the grandparent and the parent.

If you or someone you know is seeking visitation or custody of his or her grandchild, please call the skilled attorneys at Lyons & Associates, at (908) 575-9777 for a free consultation about your case or contact us online. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates have substantial expertise in such matters exclusively focusing on family law and family law related issues.

Written by: Sara E. Kucsan, Esq.