New Jersey family law is based on the idea that the needs and best interests of children should come first. With that in mind, grandparents are viewed as an important and positive influence on the lives of our children. Grandparents do enjoy many legal rights to visitation, even as potential guardians. However, the rights of parents take precedence, which may lead to an uphill battle for many grandparents when it comes to their grandchildren.
The grandparents’ rights attorneys of Jacobs Berger understand that extended family dynamics can be complicated. Whether you are a grandparent seeking visitation or guardianship of a grandchild, or a parent trying to protect your legal rights, our legal team is here to walk you through the process. We take pride in serving families from local Morris County communities and across Northern New Jersey.
Grandparent Visitation Lawyers Discuss New Jersey Visitation Statutes
Our Randolph grandparents’ visitation lawyers understand that many New Jersey grandparents simply do not know where they stand when it comes to the legal right to visitation with their grandchildren. In a perfect world, amicable relationships between grandparents, parents, and children would mean that such statutes would not ever come into effect. Unfortunately, some grandparents find themselves taking legal action to enjoy visitation time.
Pursuant to New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 9:2-7.1, there is a litany of considerations which the courts may consider when reviewing requests for visitation. What is most important to understand at a high level is that grandparents are afforded the reasonable right to petition the state of New Jersey for visitation time with their grandchildren.
Family Law Attorneys Help Grandparents Petition for Visitation or Guardianship
Petitions for visitation may be entered into the New Jersey Superior Court. These hearings will be determined based on the best interests of the child. As per New Jersey law, the following may be considered:
- The existing relationship between the child and grandparent
- The amount of time which has passed since the child last had contact with the grandparent
- Any history of abusive or criminal behavior by the grandparent including sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
- Any potential impact of grandparent visitation on the existing relationship between a child and their caretaker(s)
- Anything else concerning the child’s best interest
Petitioning for guardianship is naturally much more complex and requires a more stringent baseline of evidence. The primary reason for which a grandparent may be granted guardianship is if the parent or parents of a child are considered legally unfit. This is outlined in N.J.S.A. 9:2-9 Unfit parents and custodians, court action to grant relief.
Essentially, if the child’s parents or guardians are no longer able to legally care for a child, any “person interested in the welfare of such a child” may petition the New Jersey Superior Court for child custody. Grandparents may be viewed favorably in these cases as they are closely related and likely have an existing relationship with the child.
Can a Grandparents’ Request for Visitation be Contested or Denied?
While grandparents enjoy many legal rights in New Jersey, ultimately parents may have the upper hand in a legal dispute. It is important to understand that parents may move to deny visitation rights of a grandparent in New Jersey, but only on the grounds that their presence may be damaging or harmful to a child.
If you are a parent in Morris County and your child’s grandparents have petitioned the Superior Court for visitation rights, you have the right to formally deny their request. The judge will require a reason for your denial of the visitation request. Our Morris County family law attorneys will help you present the evidence which shows that the grandparent is a danger to your child. This can include a history of violent behavior, drug or alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and more.
Contact our Grandparent Child Visitation Attorneys Today
The family rights attorneys of Jacobs Berger take pride in serving parents and grandparents from Morris County towns including Morristown, Madison, Randolph, Denville, Dover, East Hanover, Florham Park, and all of Northern New Jersey. Our firm believes that each case we take is an opportunity to help our clients reshape their family’s future in a positive way. To this end, we aim to provide dynamic and personalized legal solutions that address the unique concerns of each one of our family law clients.
To speak with a member of our experienced legal team regarding your rights as a grandparent or parent in New Jersey, please contact us online or call our Morristown office by dialing (973) 354-4574 today for a comprehensive and confidential Strategic Planning Session.