Grandparents’ Rights: Taking Legal Action
Frank Tournour, of Tournour Law, knows that when parents separate or divorce, it can cause the relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren to suffer. Our firm has assisted grandparents in East Brunswick for more than 20 years, helping them maintain a relationship with their grandchildren within the parameters of New Jersey’s Grandparent Visitation Statute.
Rights Of Grandparents In New Jersey
New Jersey recognizes that spending time with grandparents, siblings, and other non-parental family members can benefit a child, even when the parents are divorced or separated. Grandparent visitation can take place even if the grandparents or family members do not get along with the custodial parent. All states have some sort of “grandparent statutes” in place to allow family members the opportunity to spend time with a child, and such visitation can be requested even if both parents oppose contact.
Grandparents who have documented their interaction with their grandchildren tend to have more successful cases since they can point to past visits having positive outcomes.
The New Jersey Grandparents’ Rights Statute was written in 1972 to allow grandparents to visit grandchildren in the event that one of the parents dies. A year later, it was rewritten to broaden the rights, making them applicable to parental divorce and separation. In 1993, it was rewritten again to include more cases in which grandparents may apply for visitation rights.
What Factors Can Affect Visitation?
It is the responsibility of the family member applying for visitation to prove that the visits serve the best interests of the child. The following factors are considered:
- What is the relationship between the child and the applicant?
- What is the relationship between each of the child’s parents (or the person with whom the child is residing) and the applicant?
- How long has it been since the child last had contact with the applicant?
- What effect will the proposed visits have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents (or the person with whom the child is residing)?
- If the parents are divorced or separated, what is the time-sharing arrangement or visitation schedule already in place?
- What evidence is there to support the good faith of the applicant in filing the application?
- Is there any history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect by the applicant?
- Are there any other factors relevant to the best interests of the child?
If a grandparent or other family member is willing to go to court in order to spend time with a child, there may already be a certain level of hostility between one or both parents and the grandparent. Typically, the grandparent has already tried contacting the parent and has been denied visitation. Having a third party mediate the situation can defuse hostility and force both parties to look objectively at the same factors the court will be considering when deciding whether to allow visitation.
The Harm Standard
Grandparents applying for visitation must prove that visits will not cause any harm to the child. This is called meeting the Harm Standard. Grandparents who have documented their interaction with their grandchildren tend to have more successful cases since they can point to past visits having positive outcomes.
Call Today For Legal Advice
Attorney Frank Tournour can help you assemble your application for visitation and fight to uphold your best interests and the best interests of the child throughout the process. Call our law offices today at 732-913-3634 or visit us online to book a consultation.