Grandparents are a commonly overlooked party in divorces and custody arrangements. Unfortunately, as family dynamics change, grandparents may find themselves on the outside looking in, with few or no opportunities to spend time with their grandchildren.
New Jersey state statutes outline a path to court-sanctioned visitation rights for grandparents.
How to apply for grandparent visitation rights
To begin pursuing legal visitation rights, a grandparent must complete a formal application and submit it to the county where their grandchild resides. The burden of proof lies with the grandparent to show a healthy relationship with the child and to demonstrate the importance of maintaining that relationship.
Factors the court uses
For grandparents to receive visitation rights, a court must find that the arrangement is in the grandchild’s best interests. According to New Jersey statute 9:2-7.1, the court uses several factors to determine the approval or denial of grandparent visitation, including:
- The relationship between the child’s parents or guardians and the grandparent and between the child and grandparent
- The impact that visitation may have on the child’s relationship with their parents or guardians
- The length of time between the present and the grandparent’s last visit with the child
- The grandparent’s intentions
- Past incidence of abuse by the grandparent
- Existing custody arrangements
A court will only grant grandparent visitation if it supports the child’s best interests. Grandparents who have documented proof of quality time spent with their grandchildren might be more likely to have visitation approved and may benefit from hiring an experienced lawyer to guide them through the application process.