In the state of New Jersey, the courts may grant a grandparent visitation rights if they can prove that denying visitation will in any way harm the child. Should a parent deny a grandparent the chance to visit with their grandchild, the grandparent may fill out an application for visitation. This application must provide evidence that visitation is in the best interest of the child. In evaluating an application, the courts will consider a range of factors, including the length of the relationship and the frequency of contact.
Factors Considered for Granting Visitation or Custody
There are a number of factors considered in determining whether grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child:
- Strength of Relationship – The strength of the relationship between the child and grandparent will be considered. A grandparent who has been in regular contact with their grandchild will likely fare better than a grandparent who has not.
- Time Elapsed – How recently the grandparent last saw their grandchild will play a role. Typically, the more recent, the better.
- Arrangements – If the child’s parents are separated or divorced, the current arrangement between them will be considered.
- Distance – The physical distance between the parents and grandparent may play a role in determining if, or how often, the grandparent can spend time with their grandchild.
- Capability – The grandparents must be able to meet the child’s needs physically and emotionally, meaning they must be able to provide love and adequate attention.
Petitioning for Visitation or Custody
To begin, the grandparent will fill out an application for visitation rights. This formal, written request will include details of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. The grandparent must prove that the child will suffer harm if visitation were to be denied.
In evaluating an application, the courts will consider a range of factors including the length of the relationship and the frequency of contact.
A grandparent can argue, for example, that due to a strong pre-existing relationship, the grandchild will endure negative psychological consequences if denied an opportunity to spend time with their grandparent. Along with this, the grandparent will provide a proposed schedule. If a schedule cannot be agreed upon, the court must determine whether or not the proposed schedule is in the child’s best interest.
Alternatives to Litigation
Only you can determine whether suing for visitation rights is the right course of action. For example, if your grandchild’s parents are truly unfit due to drugs, alcohol, abuse, or mental illness, you may decide litigation is necessary. However, alternatives do exist and reconciliation may be worth an attempt. Though it may take months, if not years, it may be possible to resolve the dispute. Counseling is another alternative and if all parties are willing participants, it often proves effective.
Take Action Today
If you are a grandparent seeking to gain visitation rights or custody of your grandchild, contact attorney Jeffrey Goldblatt to schedule your consultation. You can reach us online or by calling (732) 238-8700to learn more.