Crystal Wright | November 22, 2023 | Child Custody
Grandparent’s rights for custody and visitation in Lawrenceville, GA, can be a complicated family law matter. Under some state laws, grandparents have no right to demand to see their grandchildren if the parents are fit and refuse to allow visitation. Georgia gives grandparents the right to seek visitation through the courts, but grandparents are not guaranteed the right to see their grandchildren in the state.
Can Grandparents Obtain Visitation Rights Over the Objection of the Child’s Parents?
Georgia courts recognize that the bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be very strong. Abruptly terminating the grandparent relationship could cause a child harm. A child might experience anxiety, depression, mental trauma, and emotional distress if they suddenly cannot see their grandparents.
However, the courts will not grant grandparent visitation rights if the parents are fit, live with the child, and object to the grandparent visitation. That said, in all cases, judges consider the best interests of the child when making visitation decisions. Therefore, a court could grant grandparent visitation if:
- The grandparent was raising the child and/or the child lived with the grandparent.
- The court has terminated a parent’s rights and the other parent now refuses to allow the grandparents visitation with their grandchild after a history of visitation.
- The child’s parents are separated or divorced and could be using the grandparent visitation as leverage in a contested custody case.
- A parent dies, and the other parent cuts off the grandparent’s visitation with the child without any justifiable reason.
The primary concern is for the child’s best interest. However, courts also factor a parent’s right to make decisions for their children into the decision.
What Factors Will the Court Consider When Deciding Grandparent Visitation Cases in Lawrenceville, GA?
Judges use many of the same factors they use to decide custody cases to decide petitions by grandparents for visitation. Therefore, factors that the court considers when deciding whether to order grandparent visitation rights include, but are not limited to:
- The age and health of the child and the grandparents
- The relationship between the grandparents and the child before the parents terminated visitation
- The ability of a grandparent to care for a child during the visitation
- A grandchild’s reasonable request and wishes regarding visiting with their grandparents
- The distance between the grandparent’s residence and the child’s home
- Whether the child might experience physical or emotional harm if visitation with the grandparent is denied
- How long the child lived with the grandparent and/or was being primarily cared for by the grandparent
- The fitness of the grandparents to have visitation with the child
Petitioning the court for grandparent visitation is always a risk. Even though a grandparent might have a solid case for visitation with their grandchild, the court may prioritize the parent’s wishes.
An experienced Lawrenceville child custody lawyer might be able to mediate an agreement between the grandparent and the child’s parents outside of court. Before taking any action, it is wise to speak with an attorney about your legal options regarding grandparent visitation. Call child services or the police if your grandchild is being or has a risk of being harmed.
Can Grandparents Receive Custody of Their Grandchildren in Lawrenceville, GA?
Millions of grandchildren are being raised by their grandparents in the United States. Courts may grant grandparents custody of their grandchildren if the parents relinquish parental rights or join the petition asking for grandparent custody.
A judge may also grant a grandparent custody of their grandchild if the grandparent proves the child’s parent is unfit. Grandparents may petition the court to adopt their grandchild when the court terminates parental rights.
If a grandparent believes a parent is unfit to have custody, the grandparent must petition the court for custody. The grandparent could file a motion for an emergency hearing and temporary custody if the grandparent believes the child is in imminent danger. They could also contact the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
The grandparent would have the burden of proving to the court that the parent was guilty of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or other wrongdoing that endangers the child’s welfare and safety. The evidence must be compelling for a court to remove custody from a parent.
Can a Grandparent Get Visitation or Custody of Their Grandchild in Georgia?
Unfortunately, there is no definite one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Each case is decided on the unique facts and circumstances relevant to the case. Before you take any action regarding grandparent custody or visitation, it is wise to speak with an experienced Lawrenceville grandparent rights lawyer. Understanding your legal rights and options helps you determine which course of action gives you the best chance of protecting your grandchildren and having a close relationship with them.
Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.