What you need to know about Grandparent Visitation
It may seem unfortunate, but your grandchildren’s parents could have the right to restrict your visitation with them. Sometimes the move may seem spiteful. The parents may feel that you add to the hostility of a marital dissolution. The decision to restrict visitation may come after the death of your own child. Can you really be forbidden from visiting with your grandchildren? Learn what you need to know about grandparent visitation and rights.
The Law Regarding Grandparents and Visitation
The law regarding grandparents and visitation is set forth in NJSA 9:2-7.1. It is a parent’s obligation to protect and raise their children. This includes making decisions about who can visit their children. However, grandparents may seek to challenge the rejection. In doing so, they must prove by “a preponderance of the evidence that the granting of visitation is in the best interests of the child.”
In considering an application for grandparent visitation, the court makes a determination based on a number of factors, including the following:
- What was the relationship between the children and grandparents prior to the visitation denial?
- Will the children be adversely affected by visiting their grandparents? How will they be impacted if the grandparents are no longer able to spend time with them?
- Did the grandparents ever act as primary caretakers?
- Is there a prospect of danger if the grandparents visit with the children?
- How will the children benefit from a continued relationship with the grandparents?
- Will the children be harmed if they are not in contact with their grandparents?
Recent Case Regarding Denial of Grandparent Visitation
A couple of days ago, the Appellate Division made a new ruling on the issue of grandparent visitation. In Loser v. Witt, Docket No. A-2627-13T4 App. Div, the paternal grandparents were denied visitation of their two grandsons. They requested a plenary hearing and sought to have the children submit to a psychological evaluation. The purpose was to show the harm that could come to the children if the grandparents were expunged from their lives.
The grandparents admitted that they had never acted as exclusive caregivers to the children. Nevertheless, they visited with their grandchildren a few times a week. The trial court judge acknowledged that there was a definite bond between the children and their grandparents. However, he denied visitation on the basis that the grandparents had not proved a “particularized harm” that would occur as a result of the visitation discontinuance. The court could intervene in parental decisions when the harm was evidenced. The Appellate Division concurred that without proof of harm, there would be no plenary hearing. In addition, the children would not be subjected to a psychological evaluation.
At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we recognize the despair grandparents can experience when denied access to their grandchildren. We can provide you with realistic legal advice concerning your pursuit of grandparent visitation. Contact us to set up a meeting as soon as possible.