Union County Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
New Jersey has a grandparents’ visitation statute allowing all close relatives—including siblings—to petition for the right to see a child, even against the express wishes of the child’s parents. The aim of this law is to find a balance between the rights of parents to raise their child and the valuable role that grandparents and other close family members could play in a child’s development. If you are a grandparent seeking to assert your right to be in a grandchild’s life, contact a Union County grandparents’ rights lawyer about your legal options. You have a right to apply for a court order compelling visitation, but you may need help from a family attorney to effectively show a judge that your visitation is in the child’s best interests.
Factors a Court May Consider When Deciding to Compel Visitation
When asking a court to compel visitation with a grandchild over the objection of the child’s parents, a grandparent must demonstrate based upon a preponderance of the evidence that the visitation would be in the child’s best interests. This means that it must be more likely than not that the child’s best interests would be served through the requested visitation time.
Courts have an obligation to consider the following factors when making decisions about compelled visitation:
- The nature of the relationship between the child and the petitioning grandparent
- The grandparents’ relationship with the child’s parents
- The amount of time since the child and grandparent had contact
- The effect compelled visitation may have on the parent-child relationship
- Any time-sharing agreements between the parents
- If the petition for visitation was made in good faith
- Any history of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse
- Other factors affecting the child’s best interests
With help from a Union County grandparents’ rights attorney, a grandparent who acted as a child’s full-time caretaker can often establish a rebuttable presumption that compelled visitation is in the child’s best interests. In these cases, the court would presume that visitation is the best outcome for the child, though parents may contest this assertion.
The Process of Petitioning for Visitation
Anyone petitioning for visitation with a grandchild should begin by consulting a legal advocate. A knowledgeable grandparents’ rights lawyer in Union County might be able to help grandparents navigate the complex process required to enforce this particular right.
Grandparents must first file a petition for visitation in the county where the child lives or in the county where custody and visitation decisions for the child were made. This formal written request must describe the grandparent’s relationship with the child and propose a visitation schedule.
The court would then serve a formal written notice to all parties regarding their need to attend a hearing. The hearing date and time would be specified on this notice.
If parties cannot resolve their difference at the hearing, a judge has the discretion to order the parties to attend mediation. A judge may also order the child to undergo a psychological evaluation or schedule a trial where rules for presenting evidence are considerably more stringent.
Contact a Union County Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
You have a right as a grandparent under New Jersey law to spend time with a grandchild if it would be good for the child. Contact a Union County grandparents’ rights lawyer today for information on how to petition for visitation and potentially enforce other rights.