Grandparents play a vital role in a child's life. Their significant contributions to the family, no matter how indirect, are observed and internalized by a child - whether it be as a watchdog, a mediator, a stress reliever, or an unwavering source of support. Grandparents can provide a fresh perspective that can't be taught elsewhere, by instilling traditional values, passing on family traditions, and teaching ethnic heritage. And as more and more grandparents continue to care for their grandchildren while parents work, the influence of grandparents is now stronger than ever.
But when spouses decide to divorce, things can get tricky. Families take sides, fight, and end up with irreparable emotional damage. In these situations, it's common for a custodial parent to deny the grandparent of their ex-spouse the right to see their grandchild.
If you're a grandparent who has found themselves in this predicament, the state of New Jersey has your back. Gone are the days where grandparents suffer because of the spiteful ways of an ex son or daughter in law. If you want to be more involved in your grandchild's life, you have the right to petition for visitation rights.
The visitation rights of grandparents are dictated by New Jersey statute N.J.S.A.9:2-7.1. It states that a grandparent has the right to make an application to the court for an order to compel visitation. The statute also reads that the grandparent has the burden of proving that visitation would be in the best interest of the child. For an order of visitation to be enforced, the proof will be weighed by the “preponderance of evidence.” This means that the evidence must indicate that the visitation rights will “more likely than not” be in the best interest of the child.
Many grandparents get visitation by providing sufficient evidence that they were full-time caretakers of the child in the past. But even if this isn't the case in your situation, you still may have a pretty good chance of getting visitation rights if you and your grandchild have developed a bond.
In making a determination, the court will consider the following factors:
- The relationship between you and your grandchild
- The relationship between you and the child's parents or guardian(s)
- The time that has elapsed since the child last had contact with you
- The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and his or her parents or guardian(s)
- If the parents are divorced or separated, the time-sharing arrangement which exists between the parents with regard to the child
- Your good faith in filing the application
- Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect by you; and
- Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child
New Jersey Family Law
If you would like to know more about visitation rights for grandparents, or feel like this is an option you want to personally utilize, schedule a consultation with the Lento Law Firm today by phone at 888-535-3686.