Union County NJ Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
The relationship between a grandparent and his or her grandchild can be profoundly beneficial, providing the child with another form of emotional support, stability, and love. Unfortunately, as a result of familial issues, divorce, separation, or death, grandparents can be denied access to their grandchildren. This severed relationship may be detrimental to the child, particularly if the grandparent was very involved in the child’s life prior to the termination of the relationship. Under certain circumstances, New Jersey will grant grandparent visitation rights with his or her grandchild, considering a variety of factors which are addressed in more detail below. Above all, the State will evaluate whether or not grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child.
Understanding your legal rights and the necessary grounds for requesting access to your grandchildren is critical when attempting to spend time with them. The assistance of a knowledgeable family lawyer can be invaluable when addressing such an important matter that may have implications for the rest of your life and theirs. Contact the law offices of Edward S. Cooper to find the answers to your questions about grandparents’ rights in New Jersey. He is available at (908) 481-4625 to immediately assist you.
Grandparents’ Rights in New Jersey
New Jersey implemented the Grandparents’ Visitation Statute in 1972, with statute N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1. This law, which was subsequently amended multiple times to reflect changing times and the evolving body of case law, provides grandparents with the opportunity to request visitation with their grandchildren in the event of a death, divorce, or separation, or if the nuclear family remains intact but he or she is being barred from access to the grandchildren. In order to successfully make a claim of this kind, grandparents must prove that visitation is in the best interests of the child. When making these determinations, the court must consider the following eight factors:
- The nature and quality of the relationship between the child and the applicant;
- The relationship between each of the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing and the applicant;
- The time which has elapsed since the child last had contact with the applicant and the reasons for any lapse in contact;
- The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing;
- If the parents are divorced or separated, the time-sharing arrangement which exists between the parents with regard to the child;
- If the application is brought by a relative of a deceased parent, the time-sharing arrangement previously enjoyed by the deceased parent and the extent of contact previously enjoyed with the relative during the time the child was in the custody of the deceased parent;
- The good faith of the applicant in filing the application;
- Any documented history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of any child by the applicant; and
- Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child. c. With regard to any application made pursuant to this section, it shall be prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child’s best interest if the applicant had, in the past, been a full-time or frequent caretaker for the child.
Notably, a New Jersey Supreme Court decision in 2003 in the case of Moriarty v. Bradt imposed yet another requirement on the petitioning grandparent when seeking visitation. Per the court’s ruling, the grandparent must now prove that denying him or her visitation with the grandchild will be detrimental to the child. Otherwise, rulings in favor of grandparents would be infringing upon the constitutional rights of the parents to raise their children as they deem appropriate.
Overall, if you can establish good cause for visitation considering all of the aforementioned requirements, you may be granted visitation with your grandchildren. In addition, under extraordinary circumstances, you may even have cause to file for custody of your grandchild, if for instance, the child has been removed from his or her parent’s care.
Contact a Middlesex NJ Grandparents’ Rights Attorney for More Information
Attorney Edward S. Cooper has assisted countless clients in Union, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties, as they seek to resolve often complex and stressful family law matters, such as those involving grandparents’ rights. To speak with him about your situation, contact his offices today at 908-481-4625.