Unfortunately for grandparents, their “rights” are often diminished, if they exist at all. This reality reflects not only the view of New Jersey law, but actually stems from the Supreme Court of the United States itself. In a landmark Supreme Court case called Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court essentially held that fit parents generally have a right to raise their children as they see fit. In other words, in most instances a parents right to raise a child without grandparent visitation trumps the grandparents right to see their own grandchildren. New Jersey Grandparent’s Visitation Rights law is therefore limited in scope by the court’s decision in Troxel and subsequent cases.
That said, the facts are ultimately what will control in a New Jersey grandparent’s visitation rights claim. A competent and experienced New Jersey family law attorney should be able to review the facts and determine if you have a legal action or not. If you do, the first attempt might be to try and broker an agreement. Custody battles of any stripe can be nasty and costly, and if an agreement can be made then that is usually ideal. The major factor to consider is whether grandparent’s visitation will be in the best interest’s of the parties’ children.
New Jersey Standard
What later New Jersey cases have related, is that the fundamental question is whether the grandparent visitation is in the best interest’s of the child or children, and that harm would be incurred by the child were the grandparent visitation denied. The standard of review in these matters is a preponderance of the evidence. The grandparent or grandparents seeking the relief/visitation time have the responsibility of proving the resultant harm were grandparent visitation denied. A specific harm must be identified, and various factors are considered to help determine whether the claim reaches the required standard.
Some factors that will likely aid a grandparent’s visitation claim include:
- The Grandparent(s) strong relationship with the child or children.
- The Grandparent(s) ability to provide something unique to the child or child(ren) that enriches the child or childrens’ lives.
- The Grandparent was previously the guardian for the child or children.
- If the overall fitness of the parent is in question.
Even with a victory, the amount of time ceded to a grandparent for visitation might not be as much as hoped for. A grandparent visitation matter generally is about an issue between grandparent and parent. The grandchildren are generally just collateral damage. If you wish to bring or defend a grandparent visitation right claim, then it might be important to seek the counsel of an experienced and competent New Jersey family law attorney.
Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:
If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.