Following divorce or death, families struggle with the sadness and change associated with the event. When children are involved, the situation can become even more challenging, especially where the grandparents want to continue being in the lives of those children.
Who Makes Decisions About Visitation?
Generally speaking, a child’s parent or parents have the authority to determine who their child visits and interacts with. Children are considered unable to make their own decisions until the reach the age of 18 in New Jersey, meaning that their guardians or custodians (normally the parents) have the right to decide.
In the context of divorce, the parent to whom custody is granted may not want the child or children to visit with the ex-spouse’s family. Most divorce settlements include terms that govern visitation between parents, but less often include grandparents in the visitation schedule.
New Jersey law recognizes that grandparents can develop and share an incredibly strong bond with grandchildren. Many times, the work schedules of parents lead to the grandparents being heavily involved in the development and day-to-day life of the child. When a parent in a divorce is granted custody, he or she may seek to limit the contact of the ex-spouse’s family, out of fear that the child’s relationship with that family could interfere with his or her ability to develop new family bonds and relationships. New Jersey law can prevent such complete elimination of contact from happening.
Making a Claim for Grandparent Visitation Rights
In order to successfully request that the court enter a visitation order for grandparents, the grandparents must show to the court:
- That the grandparent having visitation rights is in the best interests of the child or the children
- That no grandparent visitation rights would be potentially harmful or a negative influence upon the child or children
- The nature of the relationship between the child’s parent or guardian and the grandparent seeking visitation
- The amount of time that has passed since the grandparent last saw the child
- The effect visitation will have on the relationship between the child and their parents
- The good faith of the grandparent in filing and making the request
- Whether the grandparent has a history of neglect or abuse
- Any other relevant factors
A long list of elements, to be certain. However, grandparents who were full-time caretakers for the child in the past do not need to provide any additional evidence that continued visitations are in the child’s best interests; the court presumes that to be the case. Overall, the sole purpose behind the elements is to show the court that granting (or not granting) visitation rights is what is best for the child or children overall. As courts have often said, the “best interests of the child” standard is the pole star for any decisions involving that child – it should always be the question that the court comes back to and answers in the affirmative in any decision it renders.
New Jersey’s law applies to both grandparents and siblings of a child.
Dealing With Grandparent Visitation Issues in New Jersey
This law is critical to any New Jersey grandparent or sibling that has lost access to someone. The bar for earning the court’s approval is high, but should not deter you. If you have lost access to a grandchild or sibling and want it back, contact an experienced New Jersey Grandparent Visitation Rights attorney. The Law Office of Daniel K. Newman is ready to assist you in this difficult time. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.