This article will focus on grandparent-focused visitation rights. Please see our previous post on parental-focused visitation rights for information about types of custody, the difference between dissolution and non-dissolution cases, and parenting time. Continue reading this post to learn about grandparents’ visitation rights in New Jersey.
Due to issues like divorce, separation, or death, a parent can limit your time with your grandchild. The reason for this is because parents have the legal right to make decisions for their children, even if their choices oppose what grandparents believe. However, this is not to say that grandparents cannot ever visit their grandchildren. New Jersey law allows grandparents to reasonably visit their grandchildren through legal action.
How Can I Visit My Grandchildren in New Jersey?
NJ law states that if your grandchild’s parent does not allow you to visit your grandchild, you can request visitation from the court through a petition filed in Superior court. The Superior court may be the one closest to where the grandchild lives, or the one which makes custody and visitation orders for your grandchild. When you request visitation, you have to prove in a hearing that visiting is in your grandchild’s best interest.
Since parental rights are typically prioritized over grandparent rights, it is important for grandparents to present sufficient evidence when petitioning the court. Here are some examples that could demonstrate how visitation is in your grandchild’s best interest.
- You used to be the full-time caretaker of your grandchild.
- A parent is physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive.
- The child is not in custody of either parent.
- A parent has passed away.
- Expert testimony that your grandchild would be emotionally harmed without regularly contacting you.
- You have had a relationship with your grandchild for a long time.
- A parent is imprisoned.
- If parents are divorced, the parents’ visitation arrangement.
What About Visiting Adopted Grandchildren in New Jersey?
Yes, biological grandparents may still exercise visitation rights to adopted grandchildren in NJ. If your grandchild is adopted by anyone other than a stepparent, then all legal rights are transferred to the grandchild’s adoptive family. Despite this, if you can prove that visitation serves the grandchild’s best interests—the grandchild’s mental and physical health, safety, and overall wellbeing—the court may grant you visitation with your biological grandchild.
How Will the Court Decide If I Have Visitation Rights to My Grandchildren?
Once you file a motion with the relevant court in New Jersey, you will go to a hearing where you present evidence that visitation is in the best interest of your grandchild since not allowing you to visit is harmful to the grandchild. The job of the court is to consider your proof and decide whether your visitation as a grandparent is necessary for the grandchild’s wellbeing.
Please know that you are not alone if your grandchild’s parent will not let you see your grandchild. Family law attorneys can help you navigate requesting visitation for your grandchildren.
Where Can I Find Legal Support For My Visitation Issue?
Maria A. Giammona Law has been providing caring and compassionate representation for family law matters in Totowa, Wayne, West Milford, Woodland Park and throughout Passaic County for over 20 years. We’ll patiently look at every aspect of your situation and help you determine the best strategy for your family. We invite you to call us at 973-922-1035 to schedule a consultation.