Family dynamics can be complicated, even more so following a divorce. As a result, situations can arise in which grandparents can become isolated from their grandchildren or worse, fear for their welfare.
New Jersey courts typically support the involvement of grandparents in a child’s life. They recognize the important role these older adults can play in developing a young one’s self-esteem, teaching life lessons and fostering positive relationships. If at any point the grandparents role is threatened, they have legal recourse and can file a motion with the court to gain visitation rights or even custody should the situation warrant it.
A closer look: visitation
Being cut off from grandchildren can be painful, particularly if there have always been frequent visits and a close bond. In determining the issue of visitation, New Jersey law requires that the decision be based upon the best interests of the child and will consider several factors including:
- The relationship between the parents and grandparents
- The effect the visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents
- The relationship between the child and the grandparent
- Any history of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) or neglect by the grandparent
- The amount of time since the child last saw their grandparent and the reasons for any lapse in contact
- The good faith of the grandparent while applying
- Any other factor pertaining to the best interests of the child
A closer look: guardianship
If grandparents believe that their grandchild would be better off with them, they can sue for custody. However, they will usually need a very strong case to succeed in winning. For starters, grandparents must show that their age, health, and financial situation allows them to properly care for the child. The court then will weigh both the child’s best interests and the rights of the parents to control their children’s upbringing. Unless the parents consent to forego custody, the grandparents will need to prove that the parents are unfit for custody. Some common reasons include:
- Physical incapacity
- Economic hardship
- Child abuse or neglect
- Substance abuse
- Mental health matters
- Medical conditions
Weiner Law Group: Advocating for your rights as grandparents!
Every state in the United States has passed legislation establishing some rights for grandparents. This would not be the case without widespread recognition of the importance of grandparents in children’s lives and the pain that can be caused when contact is denied.
In New Jersey, Tanya Freeman and the family law attorneys at Weiner Law Group are ready to represent your interests when it comes to your grandchildren and ensuring their best interests. Our experienced litigators are also compassionate listeners. Count on us to support you throughout this complex process to craft and present the strongest possible case for you. For more information, visit our Grandparents Rights Page or call our office at 973-403-1100.