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Visitation rights of grandparents in New Jersey

Each state in the country has a statute in place that allows individuals who are not a child's parents to petition for visitation time with the child. New Jersey has a statute that allows both the grandparents and the siblings of a child residing in New Jersey to apply for visitation rights under certain circumstances.

The application may be made even if a child's parents do not want to allow the petitioner to spend time with the child. In many cases, a grandparent who feels the need to make such a petition is likely to have a hostile relationship with the child's parents or caretaker in the first place. Prior to going before a judge, applicants may want to speak with a family law attorney about entering into mediation with the people who have custody of the child. Mediation may reinforce positive aspects of having grandparents or other petitioners in the child's life, and it may even lessen tensions between all parties.

Once a petition for visitation is filed, a judge will evaluate several factors to determine whether granting visitation would be in the child's best interests. The court will want to know how long it has been since the applicant last saw the child and what the relationship is like between the applicant and the child and the child's caretakers. The applicant will be asked about whether he or she has a history of abuse or neglect as well as whether the application is being made in good faith.

A family law attorney may help a grandparent applicant by showing the court that there would be a positive effect on allowing the grandparent visitation. Such an attorney can also assist a parent who is facing a child custody dispute as part of a divorce proceeding.

Source: Findlaw, "New Jersey Grandparent Visitation Rights", September 07, 2014

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