Grandchildren play an important role in the lives of many grandparents, and vice versa. It is understandable that many grandparents desire to maintain ongoing relationships with their grandchildren. This relationship, however, can be jeopardized during a divorce. If you are a Georgia grandparent who is at risk of losing your relationship with your grandchildren, you have options. In the state of Georgia, grandparents do not have automatic visitation rights. Instead, there are certain legal avenues grandparents can pursue if they wish to continue relationships with their grandchildren following a family crisis.
Petition for Visitation
A grandparent in Georgia is able to file a petition for visitation with the superior court, though there are stiff requirements in order for it to be approved. The state prohibits a petition if there are any other ongoing custody matters with the child occurring at the same time. A person is also prohibited from filing for grandparent visitation rights if a child still lives with both parents. Instead, for valid grounds to pursue these rights, the child’s parents must either have divorced or separated.
Asserting the Right in an Ongoing Case
The second option that a grandparent has for asserting parental rights is to join a case that is already ongoing. If there is a custody or visitation issue ongoing, a grandparent might be able to pursue his or her own right to visitation as part of this ongoing matter.
The Standard Georgia Uses in Grandparent Cases
Courts in Georgia will likely award a grandparent visitation rights if they find that the following elements exist:
- The child’s well-being would be jeopardized if a request for visitation was denied
- The visitation is in the child’s best interest
- The child is a minor who lived with the grandparent for longer than six months
- The grandparent provided financial support for the child’s basic needs for a period of at least one year
- A regular pattern of visitation occurred between the child and grandparent
If a judge determines that any of these factors exist, he or she will likely determine that it is in the best interest of the child to continue a relationship with the grandparent.
The Removal of Grandparents’ Rights
Georgia law provides a child’s parent or legal guardian the right to ask a court of law to remove or modify a grandparent’s visitation rights. To do so, however, a parent must establish that there is good cause for making this alteration. While courts give weight to a parent’s wishes, there are other factors that the court will consider in determining whether to remove the grandparent’s rights.
Speak with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today
At Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C., we understand how important it is to have a substantial and ongoing relationship with grandchildren. We make sure to take the steps necessary so that grandparents can continue these relationships. Contact our law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.