Many states limit grandparents’ rights when it comes to their grandchildren, as courts (and the law) side on the premise that parents should have the authority to decide who their children should see or not see.
However, New Jersey law differs regarding grandchildren visitation, giving grandparents in the state the right to request reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. Although New Jersey grandparents can request visitation at any time, it often occurs when the parents separate or divorce or when one parent dies.
Keep reading to learn more about your visitation rights in New Jersey.
Do Grandparents Have Any Child Visitation Rights in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, grandparents may request visitation of their grandchildren if one or both parents deny visitation. However, the grandparents must prove to the court that visitation is in the best interests of the child.
Even though New Jersey permits limited rights for visitation, grandparents must understand that courts prioritize parental rights over any rights for grandparents. However, this is not absolute, as the rights of grandparents may supersede those of the parents, especially if a parent is abusive, neglectful, or imprisoned.
What Factors Does a New Jersey Court Review When Determining Visitation?
When determining visitation, New Jersey courts first start with the overarching question of what’s in the child’s best interest. In other words, the court will only take legal action if it’s in your grandchildren’s best interests.
With this in mind, New Jersey family courts typically consider the following factors when determining any awarded visitation for grandparents:
- The existing relationship between the child and the grandparent
- The existing relationship between the parent(s) and the grandparent
- The frequency with which the grandparents typically see the child
- The “good character” of the grandparents
- The marital status of the parents
- Any impact that the granted visitation would have on the parents
- Any history of abuse by the parents or grandparents
- Expert testimony that the child would be negatively impacted by not seeing their grandparents
- Any other factors that might be relevant to the child’s best interests.
How Do New Jersey Grandparents Request Visitation of their Grandchildren?
If you want to request legal visitation of your grandchildren, you’ll first need to file a petition with the local family court in the county where your grandchildren live. In this petition, you’ll need to detail your existing relationship with your grandchildren and your efforts to establish or continue a relationship with them.
Once filed, this petition must be served on your grandchildren’s parents or legal guardians. Once this is done, you’ll request a court hearing, giving you (and your grandchildren’s parents or legal guardians) the chance to prove why your visitation is in the best interests of your grandchildren.
However, before your hearing date, the court may require all parties to attend mediation to resolve your visitation issues. If mediation is unsuccessful, then you’ll proceed with the court hearing.
Before proceeding with filing the petition, however, you should speak to an experienced New Jersey family law attorney to help you navigate this process.
New Jersey Family Attorneys in North Bergen and Surrounding Areas
Are you in need of a family attorney in North Bergen or any of the surrounding areas in Northern New Jersey? Then Carvajal Law can help. We have experience with all manners of family law, including child visitation and custody. We always offer free, no-obligation initial consultations. During the consultation, you’ll learn more about your legal rights and options and get answers to your most pressing questions. Contact Carvajal Law today to discuss your case at (201) 801-3134, or you can complete our online contact form to get in touch.