Grandparents can add a lot to a child’s life, especially when the child’s parents are divorced. Unfortunately, when one spouse divorces another, they often “divorce” their ex’s parents as well. Like every other state, grandparents in New Jersey can go to court to request visitation rights for their grandchildren, even if the custodial parent objects.
Our state’s Grandparents Visitation Statute allows a grandparent or a sibling of a child living in New Jersey to apply for visitation. To be successful, the petitioner must be able to provide proof that visitation is in the best interests of the child. This statute applies not only to divorced couples but also to those families where separation or death has split up the family.
In determining whether visitation should be granted, the Court considers eight factors, including:
- The state of the relationship between the child and grandparent(s)
- The state of the relationship between the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and the grandparent(s)
- How much time has gone by since the child last had contact with the grandparent(s)
- What kind of effect visitation is likely to have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s)
- In cases of divorce or separation, the nature of the time-sharing agreement between the parents
- Whether the grandparent(s) are filing an application for visitation in good faith
- Whether the applicant(s) has any history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect
- Any other factors that are relevant to the best interests of the child
If grandparents have to go to court to gain access to a grandchild, it is highly likely that there is already a high level of conflict between the custodial parent and the grandparents. Mediation can be quite helpful in resolving these differences, striking a balance between acknowledging the positive aspects of the grandparent-grandchild bond and respecting parental authority.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.