What Rights Do Grandparents Have Regarding Visitation?


October 12, 2020

Divorce affects children in many ways. For children who are used to seeing their grandparents, altering these visits can be very disruptive. It may seem obvious that caring parents would allow and enable their children to continue to visit with grandparents; however, this is not always the case.

There can be many reasons why a parent would not continue allowing their children to have the same sort of visits with grandparents after divorce. A parent might move away, making it less convenient to arrange for visits. A parent may even remarry, prioritizing their children getting to know the new spouse’s family over maintaining contact with the parents of the former spouse. Whatever the reason, discontinuation or diminution of visits between grandchildren and their grandparents can be difficult to accept.

What can Grandparents Do to Continue Seeing their Grandchildren?

The first and best choice in resolving conflicts regarding access to grandchildren would be to discuss the issue with the parent limiting the access. This may require being flexible and sensitive. If a parent is limiting access to their children and will not consider requests by the grandparents, then there may be recourse in the court. State laws vary, and all must operate within the limits set by the court. In New Jersey, grandparents do have rights that allow for visitation and even child custody of their grandchildren under limited circumstances.

A grandparent can apply for a visitation order; however, the applicant must overcome the presumption that the parent’s limitations to visitation are in the best interests of the children. Successful cases must be supported by sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption. The basis for most cases is that the grandparent applying for visitation already has an established relationship with the child.

What Must be Proven to the Court?

It is also necessary to prove that visitation is in the best interests of the children. The court will evaluate the prior relationship with the grandparents. Other factors often considered include:

  • The relationship between each of the child’s parents and the applicant.
  • Amount of time that has elapsed since last contact with the child.
  • How granted visitation will impact the relationship between the child and the custodial parent.
  • Existing time-sharing agreements between the parents.
  • Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect by the applicant.

The court is also at liberty to evaluate any other relevant factors to the best interests of the child.

Should I See a Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer is an important part of the legal process. The process of seeking visitation begins with filing a petition with the court, and a lawyer will be able to help with this. The petition will describe the existing relationship with the grandchildren and a proposed schedule for court-ordered time. One can petition to enforce or modify an existing visitation order. A lawyer will ensure that grandparents are given time with their grandchildren.

Moorestown Divorce Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Help Grandparents Obtain Visitation Rights

Our experienced Moorestown divorce lawyers at Stockton Family Law understand how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren. If you wish to have visitation with your grandchild, call us at 856-412-5052 or complete our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and Camden County.

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