Few occasions bring as much joy to a family as the birth of a child. Grandchildren are a wonderful addition to the life of grandparents, and grandparents can provide essential support and love to children. In today’s society, it is very common for grandparents to offer frequent or even daily care and support to parents. Grandparents can even take on a parental role in some situations. New Jersey has provided an avenue for grandparents to get court-ordered visitation in recognition of this bond.
New Jersey statute 9-2 provides grandparents with the ability to seek an order for visitation with their grandchildren. When a grandparent asks the court to establish an order for visitation, it is up to the grandparent to provide evidence to the court to support their request. The court will look to the best interest factors that are applied to more traditional child visitation actions. In addition, the court will look to additional factors, including:
- The relationship between the grandparent and the child;
- The relationship between the grandparent and the parents;
- How long it has been since the grandparent had contact with the child;
- The impact court-ordered visits would have on the relationship between the child and the parents;
- The visitation order between the parents, in the event they are divorced;
- The good faith of the filing grandparent;
- Any history of emotional or physical abuse committed by the grandparent; and
- Anything else the court deems relevant.
In general, these types of cases are appropriate where there has been a divorce between the parents, a death of one of the parents, a DYFS (now DCPP) proceeding, or a falling out between the grandparents and the parents. In essence, these actions are common when the parents have stopped allowing access to the child. Keep in mind that if the grandparents have a poor relationship with the parents, this will weigh against granting visitation. In general, parents have the right to make parenting decisions, free from the interference of others. The court will generally not interfere with that right absent an important reason, such as a negative impact on the children. New Jersey case law shows that in order to get visitation, it is necessary for a grandparent to show that denial of that visitation would actually be detrimental to that child, which is a high bar.
We have been successful resolving many of these types of cases amicably. If you have questions about grandparent visitation, you need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We can talk about grandparents’ rights and how they apply in your case.