For many, welcoming a grandchild into the world is incredibly exciting. As a grandparent, you may be excited to spoil your grandchild and spend time with them. However, if your child and their partner are no longer together, and their other parent has custody, you may not see them often or at all. If this is the case, you may wonder whether or not grandparents can get visitation rights in New Jersey. The following blog explores what you must know about these circumstances and how a Somerset County family law attorney can assist you during these complex times.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?
In New Jersey, specific family members can obtain visitation rights to see a child under certain circumstances. Generally, the only people in relation to the child who can seek rights are the parents, grandparents, and siblings.
It’s important to note that if a parent denies a grandparent time to see their child after divorce, death, or separation, and the grandparents want to petition the court, they must prove that spending time with the child is in their best interest. The parent does not have the burden of proof to show that the grandparent should not spend time with the child.
What Can I Do if I Want to See My Grandchildren?
If you want to ask the court for visitation rights to see your grandchild, there are specific steps you must take. First, you must file a petition with the court for visitation rights. If an order is already in place, but a parent refuses to adhere to it, you can ask the courts to enforce it. However, if there is no order, you will state that you are requesting reasonable visitation time with the child. Next, you’ll send a notice to the child’s parents. The court will have you attempt to reach a compromise via mediation before proceeding to a hearing.
In court, the judge will consider the following factors when determining whether a grandparent has visitation rights:
- The grandparent’s relationship with the child prior to the divorce, death, or separation of their parents
- The relationship between the grandparents and the child’s parents
- How long the child has gone without contacting you
- If granting grandparent’s visitation will impact the child’s relationship with their parent
- If there is a history of abuse or neglect by the parents or grandparents
- Any additional factors the court deems relevant to the circumstances
Additionally, if you at one point served as the full-time or primary caretaker for the child, the courts will likely deem that it’s in the best interest of the child to continue spending time with you.
It’s also imperative to understand that if your grandchild is adopted, all legal rights are transferred from their biological family to the biological family of their adopters. However, the courts may consider granting you visitation rights if they deem it is in the child’s best interest for their health and general welfare.
At the Siragusa Law Firm, we understand how hard it can be to go without seeing your grandchild. That’s why our team is ready to work with you to fight for visitation rights. Contact us today to discuss the details of your circumstances.