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What rights do grandparents have in child custody?

If your son or daughter is caught up in divorce proceedings, or is already divorced, you may be struggling to see your grandchild. This can be a painful situation for grandparents and grandchildren alike. Luckily in Georgia, grandparents have the right to ask the court to order visitation rights.

Parents must be living separately

The law specifically defines when grandparents can seek visitation. If you are in a situation in which your grandchild's parents are still living together, you cannot ask the court for visitation. It is only available when the parents have started a court proceeding involving the child or children and no longer live under the same roof. You also have to meet the legal definition of "grandparent" under the existing law.

Petition for visitation with the court

If the parents are currently in the midst of a legal proceeding, you can request visitation by joining their existing case if that case involves custody, visitation, divorce or the termination of parental rights. If there is no current action in front of the court involving custody or visitation of the child, then a separate petition for grandparent visitation can be filed if:

  • The child's parents are separated or divorced.
  • You have not filed a petition for visitation within the past two years.
  • If it has been longer than a year since a custody case involving the child was filed.

How the court decides

In order for the court to award you visitation rights, you will have to demonstrate through evidence that it is more likely than not that the visitation is in the best interests of the child and that the child's health or overall welfare would be harmed if it is denied.

If you have had regular contact with your grandchild over the years, the child lived with you or you have been providing financial assistance to the child, this standard may be met. If the court grants visitation to you, the visits cannot interrupt school or other extra-curricular activities in which the child is involved. Courts generally order visitation with grandparents be granted for at least 24 hours every month.

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Hecht Family Law
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Suite 125
Alpharetta, GA 30004

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