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How a grandparent or other relative can obtain visitation

New Jersey residents who wish to obtain visitation rights with a grandchild or sibling might be able to do so under certain circumstances. However, they must be prepared to have strong evidence that visitation would be in the child's best interest.

In the first place, the person requesting visitation rights must make the request with the Superior Court. The presiding judge will then consider certain details such as the requester's relationship with the child, the last time the requester communicated with or saw the child and the requester's relationship with the child's mother and father or with the child's custodial parent.

Furthermore, the judge will look into the outcome of the visitation, and if it would interfere with the relationship the child has with his or her parents or with the custodial parent. If the child's parents are divorced or separated, the judge will take into consideration how much time each parent has with the child as well.

The judge's decision to grant visitation rights will also be based on the requester's reason for seeking visitation rights and if the request is being filed in good faith. Similarly, the requester's character will be investigated to see if he or she has ever been convicted of neglect, or sexual, emotional or physical abuse. The judge will consider other factors pertinent to the child's best interests as well, such as if the requester has ever taken care of the child in a full-time manner. In this instance, unless evidence proves otherwise, the court will generally grant visitation.

Grandparents and siblings who want to obtain custody or visitation rights with a child generally face an uphill battle, since parental rights generally supersede theirs. However, an attorney knowledgeable in family law might point out any exceptions to the rule.

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