Parents have the legal right to make decisions about the care and well-being of their children. When a marriage is ended by divorce, or if the parents were never married, custody and visitation of minor children often become a dispute between the parents. Sadly, co-parenting disputes can result in a child not being able to see their grandparent. If you are denied visitation with your grandchild you can ask a court for legal visitation rights. The state of New Jersey grants certain grandparents’ rights that allow for visitation and even child custody, in certain situations.
Grandparents and Visitation Rights in New Jersey
New Jersey, like all states, has addressed grandparent visitation rights in state law, but the laws vary considerably from state to state. New Jersey case law precedents provide a grandparent cannot simply establish that visitation is in the child’s best interest, a grandparent must also prove that harm to the child will be the result if visitation is not awarded.
New Jersey Grandparent and Sibling Visitation Statute
New Jersey's Grandparents' Visitation Statute allows a grandparent or sibling of a child residing in New Jersey to make an application for visitation. The applicant must prove that the visitation is in the best interest of the child.
Grandparents can sue for visitation or custody rights in New Jersey:
Grandparents may file a petition in the county court where the child lives or in the court making custody and visitation orders regarding their grandchild.
Key Questions in Determining Grandparents Visitation Rights:
- Will the child be physically or emotionally harmed if they do not have regular contact with their grandparents?
- Did the child live with the grandparents 6 or more months?
- Did the grandparents financially support the child?
- Has the child regularly visited the grandparents?
- Are the grandparents actively involved in the child's life?
- Do the grandparents have a good relationship with both parents?
- Are the children at risk in the grandparents' care?
- Are the grandparents physically and mentally fit to care for the child?
If a grandparent is granted visitation rights, New Jersey law allows the child's parent or legal guardian the right to ask the court to revoke or amend a grandparent's visitation for good cause.
Grandparents Rights Organizations
There are several groups dedicated to protecting the rights of grandparents and grandchildren, many founded by grandparents who advocate on behalf of all grandparents facing visitation and custody issues with their grandchildren:
- AARP Grandparent Information Center
- Grandparents Rights Organization
- Grandparent - Grandchild Connection
- National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights
- GrandFamilies of America
Are You a Grandparent Who Is Denied Visits With Your Grandchild?
By the time a situation has progressed to a level in which the grandparent feels the need to file for court-ordered visitation rights or child custody, it’s very likely that circumstances are quite contentious. In some instances, mediation might be a beneficial process for everyone involved, as it allows for a greater chance at peaceable resolution. Call our attorneys at New Jersey Divorce Group Stolfe Zeigler today at (732) 585-1651 to get started with an initial case evaluation.