Guidelines for grandparent visitation and custody petitions

In family matters, New Jersey courts place the interests of children above the desires of adults. This is true whether a legal dispute involves child custody, support or visitations. A child’s well-being comes before parental and grandparents’ rights. Some Bergen County grandparents have limited or no access to grandchildren during or after a son or daughter’s divorce. New Jersey laws allow grandparents to request visitation privileges, but decisions are based upon whether the contact is beneficial for the child. Many states follow certain guidelines to determine whether grandparent visitations or custody is appropriate. The opinions of parents and often the child’s feelings impact these rulings. A judge must consider whether negatives, caused by conflicts between parents and grandparents, could outweigh the positives of grandparent-child contact. In many ways, family courts review a grandparent’s qualifications for visitation and custody in the same way judges assess parents’ qualifications. A grandparents’ past involvement in a child’s life is an important factor, but the quality of that relationship holds even more weight. A judge wants to ensure a child’s life remains stable, safe and is enhanced, not disrupted, by a grandparent’s interests. A judge will want to know whether a grandparent can provide for a child’s emotional and physical needs. A court investigates whether the parties involved are affected by substance abuse or domestic violence. Grandparents’ rights are limited when the reason for separation from a grandchild involves adoption. In New Jersey, grandparents may petition for visitations only when a grandchild is adopted by a stepparent. In all other cases, the severing of the parents’ legal rights also includes the loss of grandparents’ rights to maintain a relationship with an adopted child. MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family LawTM of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC attorneys may suggest ways to resolve grandparents’ concerns about visitation without taking the matter before a judge. However, our lawyers are equally prepared to represent grandparents when visitation or custody cases go to court.

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