Gloucester County Grandparent Visitation Lawyers Located in Woodbury, NJ
Experienced Woodbury, NJ Grandparent Visitation Attorneys Help Clients With Grandparent Visitation Rights in Gloucester County and Throughout South Jersey
Parents are, of course, entitled to raise their children in the way they believe is best for the child. In some circumstances, that may include attempting to eliminate contact with certain family members—even grandparents. However, courts have recognized that this is not always in the child’s best interests—and it’s, after all, the child’s best interests that must be protected in family disputes.
Under New Jersey law, grandparents are permitted to petition the courts to request reasonable visitation rights with their grandchildren. At Smedley Law Group, our experienced Woodbury, NJ grandparent visitation attorneys are here to help–whether you are a parent who opposes visitation or a grandparent interested in fighting to maintain contact with your grandchildren.
The New Jersey legislature has enacted a law that provides for grandparent visitation. Establishing your rights under the law is, however, never so simple as citing the law as written. You have to prove that the child’s best interests will be protected by maintaining the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Grandparent visitation in New Jersey is a very nuanced area of law—one that’s difficult to navigate without the right team by your side. Whether you are grandparents who’ve been cut off from your grandchildren, or your family is beset by requests for contact from parents you no longer feel should have contact with your family, Smedley Law Group has the experience you need to ensure that the relationships you want to preserve are protected. Given the nature of this area of law, finding the right representation is key. Contact us today to find out your rights when you’re faced with this triggering issue.
When Do Grandparents Have the Right to Visitation?
It’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to have disagreements when it comes time to decide how to raise children. Usually, the parties can resolve those disagreements without the matter becoming serious. In most cases, parents do have the final say in child-rearing decisions.
But what about situations where a parent tries to deprive grandparents of their right to maintain any relationship with the grandchildren? Grandparents do, under some extenuating circumstances, have the right to take action to protect that relationship even if one parent opposes allowing contact. After all, the courts often recognize that preserving the relationship between grandparent and grandchild is generally beneficial to the child absent evidence to the contrary.
The issue of grandparent visitation often becomes relevant if something has happened to break the family apart, such as:
- One parent has passed away
- The parents have divorced or separated
- One parent has lost custody rights
These circumstances can lead to disputes between the remaining (or custodial) parent and the family members of the other parent. The courts will consider ordering grandparent visitation if it’s in the child’s best interests. It’s up to the grandparents requesting visitation to prove that the child’s interests would be harmed if no contact were allowed.
How Do New Jersey Courts Determine Whether to Award Grandparent Visitation?
The relevant standard is always the child’s best interests. However, in light of a 2000 Supreme Court decision, grandparents must also show that preventing visitation would somehow harm the child. This must be established by a preponderance of the evidence—meaning that the child would “more likely than not” be harmed by cutting off contact with the grandparent.
Factors that the court will consider in determining whether to award grandparent visitation include:
- Whether there’s an established relationship between grandparent and grandchild
- The relationship between the child’s parents (or guardians) and grandparents
- The amount of time that has passed since the child and grandparent last had contact
- How ordering visitation rights would impact the child’s relationship with the parents or guardians
- How the parents divide parenting time if the parties are divorced or separated
- Whether the grandparent is requesting court-ordered visitation rights in good faith
- Any history of physical or sexual abuse, whether at the hands of the child’s parents or grandparents
- Any other factors that would be relevant to determining whether visitation is in the child’s best interests.
In situations where a grandparent had primary parenting responsibilities at any point in time, the court will also consider that as a factor.
If the courts agree that grandparent visitation is warranted, and assuming that the child’s parent is deemed a fit parent, the parent will propose a visitation schedule. The grandparent then has the right to contest that schedule if it’s unworkable. The courts can then intervene to determine whether the proposed schedule is in the child’s best interests.
Concerned About Grandparent Visitation Rights? Contact an Experienced Woodbury Grandparent Visitation Attorney for a Consultation Today
If you’re struggling with a situation involving grandparent visitation, it’s important to get legal help right away. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that the court will be willing to order grandparent visitation.
At Smedley Law Group, our experienced Woodbury, NJ grandparent visitation attorneys understand the intricacies of the New Jersey grandparent visitation rules. We’re ready to help you explore the options that may be available to protect the child at issue. If you’d like to learn more, just contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced grandparent visitation lawyer today.
- Locations Served in Gloucester County
- Clayton Deptford Township
- East Greenwich Elk Township
- Franklin Township Glassboro
- Greenwich Township Harrison Township
- Logan Township Mantua Township
- Monroe Township National Park
- Newfield Paulsboro
- Pitman South Harrison
- Swedesboro Washington Township
- Wenonah West Deptford
- Westville Woodbury
- Woodbury Heights Woolwich Township
Frequently Asked Questions About Grandparent Visitation in South Jersey
In extreme circumstances, it may be possible to petition for full custody of your grandchild. To do this, you’d have to prove that allowing the child to remain in the custody of his or her parents wouldn’t be in the child’s best interests. Usually, this can be established if you can show that the child is being abused or neglected by the parents—by proving that the parent is somehow unfit to care for the child. After this is established, you’d then have to prove that giving you sole physical custody would be in the child’s best interests.
It’s important to be able to establish the closeness of the relationship that you’ve shared with your grandchild up to this point. In some cases, it’ll be necessary to work with expert witnesses who can testify to the more specific harm that your grandchild would suffer. Usually, simply stating that your grandchild would miss out on valuable memories or love and affection are insufficient. In these cases, it’s always a matter of weighing the child’s best interests in maintaining a relationship vs. the parents’ right to parent as they see fit.