Livingston Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
Several decades ago, New Jersey state law only allowed grandparents to formally seek visitation rights in court if the child’s parents were divorced, separated, or deceased. Nowadays, although there is no guarantee of a court’s approval, grandparents can petition for visitation rights under any circumstances.
If you have been denied the right to visit your grandkid by the child’s parents, a Livingston grandparents’ rights lawyer could help you pursue legal action. If necessary, a qualified family attorney could work to convince a court that denying your visitation goes against the best interests of the child.
The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard
Under New Jersey Revised Statutes §9:2-7.1, those who wish to sue for visitation rights with their grandchild must prove that visitation is in the “best interests of the child” based on a preponderance of available evidence. Importantly, if a grandparent was previously the full-time caretaker of the child, there is a rebuttable presumption that allowing visitation would be in their best interests. Other factors the court may consider include:
- The grandparent’s relationship with the child
- The grandparent’s relationship with the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s)
- How much time has passed since the child and grandparent were last in contact
- Whether grandparent visitation would negatively impact the child’s relationship with their parents
- Whether grandparent visitation would interfere with a time-sharing custody agreement between the child’s separated parents
- Whether the grandparent has been abusive or neglectful in the past
- Whether the grandparent is filing the petition for visitation in “good faith”
For grandparents considering court action in Livingston, a judicious attorney could provide critical help with collecting and presenting evidence in support of their rights to visitation.
When Might a Court Deny Grandparent Visitation Rights?
Unfortunately, courts in New Jersey presume that “fit parents” who choose to deny visitation rights to grandparents are acting in their child’s best interests. In order to override this presumption, a grandparent must not only prove that visitation would serve the child’s best interests, but also that denying them this right would actively harm the child.
Importantly, this harm cannot be subjective in nature. A grandparent petitioning for visitation rights in New Jersey must demonstrate with specific evidence that preventing them from seeing their grandkid would cause the child to suffer some form of physical or psychological harm, such as anxiety, depression, or other forms of undue suffering. This standard is significantly harder to meet than the “best interests of the child,” and Livingston grandparents may require help from a persuasive attorney to assert their rights in court.
Speak with a Diligent Livingston Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
While state law has relaxed in certain ways, grandparents in New Jersey still do not have an automatic right to visitation with their grandchildren. If the parents wish to keep grandparents out of their child’s life, contesting that decision may be a difficult task.
However, pursuing visitation with your grandchildren could be much easier with the guidance of our Livingston grandparents’ rights lawyers. Call today to set up a private meeting and discuss your legal options.