Arons & Solomon | June 28, 2022 | Family Law
Most states limit the rights a grandparent has relating to their grandchild. The idea is that parents should have the authority to make decisions for their children, even if grandparents disagree. That may include not letting a grandchild visit with a grandparent.
However, in New Jersey, grandparents have the right to request reasonable visitation with grandchildren. This request can be made anytime but often coincides with a divorce or a death. If you’re a grandparent seeking rights over your grandchild in New Jersey, you have legal options you can explore.
What Rights Might Grandparents Have in NJ?
Grandparents may be able to fight for custody of their grandchildren, but that only occurs in limited and extreme circumstances. In most cases, a grandparent may only routinely request permission for visitation with their grandchild.
Under New Jersey law, if your grandchild’s parent denies you the right to visit with them, you can request visitation from the court. The burden is on you to prove that visitation is in your grandchild’s best interest. For example, if you can prove that you were once the full-time caretaker of your grandchild, that may be enough to persuade the court to grant your visitation request.
Let’s be clear: parental rights almost always take priority over grandparent rights. We say “almost” because there are certain situations where a grandparent may supersede a parent, like if a parent is abusive or imprisoned.
What Factors Does the Court Consider When Determining Grandparent Visitation Rights in New Jersey?
The standard all courts use when determining any item related to a child is the best interests of the child. This means that a court will always do what it considers to be in your grandchild’s best interest.
New Jersey courts will consider the following factors when determining whether to grant visitation rights to a grandparent:
- The existing and prior relationship between the grandchild and grandparent
- The relationship between the grandparent and the child’s parents
- The amount of time that has passed since the last visit between the grandchild and grandparent
- The effect visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents
- The marital or relationship status of the child’s parents
- The good character of the grandparent
- Any physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by the grandparent
The court may consider any other factors it deems relevant to make a determination.
What is the Legal Process to Apply for Grandparent Visitation Rights?
You’ll need to file a petition with the court to apply for visitation. This petition must be filed in the county where your grandchild lives.
Your petition needs detail. Include information about your existing and past relationship with your grandchild and your current efforts to establish that relationship.
Once filed, your petition must be served on all parents or legal guardians of your grandchild. You generally do this by using a process server to give them a copy of the petition.
After the parents have been served, you can request a hearing. Once you do, however, the court will require you and the parents to attend mediation to try and resolve the issues. If you cannot, then the court will hold a hearing where you can make your case.
Speak with a New Jersey Family Law Attorney Today About Grandparent Visitation Rights
If your grandchild’s parent has decided to end their relationship with you, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with their decision. New Jersey provides you with certain rights you can enforce through legal action. This may sound extreme, but it will help you retain your relationship with your grandchild. Contact an experienced family law attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.