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Grandparents' visitation rights in New Jersey

The law in New Jersey recognizes that it is often in a child's best interest to have interaction between other family members, such as grandparents, even when the child's parents do not agree. All states have statutes and guidelines regarding the rights of grandparents and other family members to gain visitation with a child. Visitation rights for grandparents are very similar to visitation rights that would be granted to any parent. It allows the grandparent to spend a designated amount of time with the child without changing custody.

A grandparent can apply for visitation rights at any time. Visitation rights can enacted by court order if the family is still together or if the family has been split by death, divorce, separation or some other factor. The child's parent or guardian does not have to agree to the visitation for it to be approved. Instead, the court will seek a balance between the rights of the parent or guardian and what is in the best interest of the child.

There are a variety of factors the court will consider when granting visitation. All of the factors aim to ensure that visitation would be beneficial to the child. This includes the past relationship between the grandparent and the child and how the visitation will affect the relationship between the child and their current caregiver.

Grandparents will usually turn to the court when a parent is preventing them from having positive contact with the child. For example, after a divorce, where the mother gets sole physical and legal custody, she does not want the children to have any contact with the father's side of the family, so she cuts off the grandparents from seeing the grandchildren. If this was cutting off what was a healthy and positive relationship, then the grandparents would be well within their right to seek court-ordered visitation.

Source: Findlaw, "New Jersey Grandparent Visitation Rights", September 03, 2014

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