Do grandparents have visitation rights in New Jersey?

grandparents with grandchild

Divorce can significantly affect the parent’s parenting time and the time grandparents can spend with their grandchildren. This is also the case when one of the child’s parents dies, and the surviving spouse limits visitation time. When these cases arise, many grandparents wonder precisely what their rights are and whether they can request court-ordered visitation. If you feel you are being unfairly denied visitation as a grandparent, contact a trusted Ocean County Child Custody Attorney who can help you understand your rights. Keep reading to learn whether grandparents have a legal right to court-ordered visitation in New Jersey. 

Do I have a legal right to grandparent visitation in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, as a grandparent, you have a legal right to request reasonable visitation with your grandchildren at any time. However, grandparents usually ask for court-ordered visitation after one parent’s death or after the parent’s divorce. Although you have the right to request visitation, it does not guarantee that the court will grant you visitation time.

The court will require you to prove that granting you visitation time is in the child’s best interest. You must demonstrate that the child would be harmed if the court denied visitation. The judge will consider several factors to determine whether granting the child’s grandparents visitation rights is in the child’s best interest. They will consider the following factors:

  • Whether you have a substantial relationship with the child
  • What is your relationship like with the child’s parents
  • The length of time since you have seen the child
  • The impact of the child’s relationship with their parents if visitation is granted
  • The parents’ visitation agreement (if divorced)
  • Reason for requesting visitation
  • Any other factors that are relevant to the child’s best interests

How do I get custody?

If you want to seek custody of your grandchildren, you must prove to the court that the child’s legal parents are unfit. You must demonstrate that they cannot provide the child with a safe and supportive environment. You must show that the child’s overall well-being is at risk being under the care of their parents. Once you have established that the legal parents of your grandchildren are unfit, you must prove that living with you would be in the child’s best interests.

To initiate the process, you must file a petition. In your petition, you must describe your relationship with your grandchild. If you do not have an existing relationship, tell your efforts to establish one. You also must provide a proposed visitation schedule that includes the distance from the child’s home to the proposed visitation location. After filing your request, you must notify all parties involved, including the child’s parents.

Contact a determined Ocean County child custody attorney if you seek visitation rights as grandparents. Our firm is committed to helping our clients preserve their relationships with their grandchildren.